Brits Turning to Woodfired Ovens for Inspiration

June 24, 2021

A family business based in Preston, is working hard through the coronavirus pandemic so that foodies in Britain can this summer master a new culinary skill unlike anything taught in the classroom – the art of woodfired cookery.

Whilst the challenges are most definitely there this year, the business is at least able to tell new customers that they could join illustrious names on the client list, with new additions David and Victoria Beckham being just two of the names that wow potential customers.

Undaunted by the obstacles currently facing most businesses, Orchard Ovens – a supplier of top-notch Valoriani pizza ovens has started a waiting list for the iconic ‘Fornino’ oven – the first baby oven Valoriani ever produced for a domestic market anywhere in the world. This was created by Valoriani at the request of Andrew Manciocchi CEO of Orchard Ovens.

The igloo-shaped Fornino oven is increasingly being seen as the answer to ‘what to do during lockdown’ by bored lockdown Brits seeking something challenging and absorbing to fill their day. With extra time on their hands, they see they have an opportunity to master skills that will enable them to cook anything from pizza to a Christmas dinner in the oven, once they become confident with becoming oven fire starters.

But other popular choices are proving to be Orchard ovens pizza stones by Valoriani, Tuscan Grills, fresh made dough balls (part frozen for delivery), and our DIY wood fired oven kits which allow the homeowner to create a garden installation and do all the work around the Valoriani oven shell themselves.  For many, this is the perfect distraction during lockdown.

Learning how to cook with wood is very much about mastering the lighting of kindling and logs, the moving of wood around the oven and the pushing hot embers to heat the oven floor. It’s then all about waiting for the sweet spot to appear – the white spot on the blackened that signals the oven is almost up to temperature.  All of this takes time and practice.

Given that much of the skill in fire lighting is found in older generations, there is little wonder that many families are viewing a Fornino as a perfect purchase for their parents, as well as themselves.  Even if party numbers are limited currently you can still have the satisfaction of turning dishes out of the oven and allowing it to warm the garden on cooler spring, summer and even autumn evenings.

Another plus for buyers is that, even if they are based in a Smoke Control Area, they can use an Orchard Ovens supplied Valoriani without fear of environmental health fines because, unlike many other ovens, it has DEFRA approval and certification.

The factory in Italy has reopened after the earlier Italian state lockdowns and is working flat out to meet orders, and the Orchard Ovens team are receiving regular warehouse shipments. Some products though are being slightly delayed due to supply chain challenges in this post Covid and Brexit world.

Andrew Manciocchi says: “Every cloud has a silver lining and I think 2020 and 2021 are the years in which people have fallen in love with both their gardens and cookery.  Luckily, we have wood fired pizza ovens, ranging from the Fornino and DIY oven kits, to larger garden ovens that can be custom built to any design.  This is the type of installation we have built for the Beckhams, Jamie Oliver, James Martin and, also very recently, racehorse trainer Chris McSharry.

Cooking with wood is an art and learning to make flames and hot coals do what you wish and create a perfectly infused dish, cooked with the flavour that can only come from a woodfired oven, delivers a huge sense of achievement.  There are also the mental health benefits that come through focus and mindfulness on the task in hand and also processes such as hand-stretching dough for pizzas, although a woodfired oven can cook anything that can be cooked by a conventional oven or a grill and not just pizza.

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