Pizza Ovens On The Rise At HPBExpo 24

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When I walked around the exhibit hall at the HPBExpo in Nashville in February, there was a lot to take in. One of the common themes I encountered throughout was the prevalence of pizza ovens.  The outdoor pizza oven niche has seemingly exploded recently. There was quite a variety of ovens on the show floor.…

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When I walked around the exhibit hall at the HPBExpo in Nashville in February, there was a lot to take in. One of the common themes I encountered throughout was the prevalence of pizza ovens. 

The outdoor pizza oven niche has seemingly exploded recently. There was quite a variety of ovens on the show floor. I got to see smaller ovens that were perfect for cooking one pizza at a time. I also got to see large ovens that were capable of handling two to four pizzas at a time or baking multiple loaves of bread. 

The other interesting trend I saw in the pizza oven niche is the growth of offerings around the pizza ovens themselves. I’m not just talking pizza peels and cutters, either. I got to see Ooni’s crust mixes, including a new one that debuted at the time of the Expo and a corresponding piece of hardware that we’ll dive into.

Ooni Pizza dough mixes and dough boxes
Ooni pizza dough mixes and dough boxes for proofing the dough

I also got to see a mixer engineered to handle pizza dough out of Europe. Don’t mistake it as a unitasker, though. It’s got the power and speed to handle all of your mixing needs. It’s just uniquely suited to the struggles of mixing pizza dough.

So let’s dive into my impressions of what’s happening with pizza ovens through the lens of HPBExpo 24!

Showcasing The Versatility Of Pizza Ovens

This is a common theme throughout the entirety of outdoor cooking right now. People aren’t necessarily looking to get five or more pieces of cooking equipment. They’re looking to get one or two that can do the most. It’s why we’ve seen pellet grill manufacturers working on how best to address the need for searing.

When I spoke with Hugo Laranja, the Business Development Manager of HPC and the creator of the Forno dual-fuel pizza oven, he stressed the versatility of the Forno. It can utilize gas and wood which gives it flexibility to work at high and low temperatures.

You can reach the high temps necessary to get that crisp bottom crust and even some of that charring that is a perfect representation of a pizza oven. It’s also perfect for throwing a cast-iron pan into with steaks for an amazing sear. Hugo and his team have even highlighted the ability to cook seafood and bake bread in the Forno oven.

Ooni went in a different direction when it came to versatility. Often, we think of versatility in terms of different types of foods like HPC and the Forno. Ooni sticks largely with the pizza vision but has made it easier to cook different types of pizza. This is a perfect segue into the expansion of accessories and products around pizza that companies are starting to do.

Pizza Oven Companies Expanding Into Accessories

Ooni is a well-known name in the backyard pizza oven market. They make sleek tabletop pizza ovens and most of them are portable. You’ll find ovens that can use gas, wood pellets, or potentially both. 

However, what I found out at the Expo was that Ooni also makes dough mixes. They’ve had Neapolitan and New York-style dough mixes available. Right around the time of the Expo, they launched a third dough mix for Detroit-style pizza.

To go along with that, Ooni also launched Detroit-style pizza pans to ensure you’re getting the proper crust and shape of Detroit pizza. While this is all still focused on pizza in general, it’s still adding versatility to allow people at home to experiment with different types of pizza.

Witt Making Homemade Pizzas As Easy As Ever

Another company I got to spend some time around was Witt. This company is based in Denmark but is expanding into North America which is why they attended HPBExpo. I got to see the ETNA Rotante pizza oven up close and was quite impressed. It features an auto-rotating stone to ensure all parts of your pizza are getting baked evenly. It also utilizes a U-shaped gas burner to expose more of the pizza to heat at a time. 

Witt ETNA Rotunda showing the U-shaped gas burner and rotating pizza stone
Witt ETNA Rotunda showing the U-shaped gas burner and rotating pizza stone

Witt also brought the Varimixer TEDDY to showcase. I spoke with Director of Witt Benelux Marcel Meijer and he gave me a rundown of this mixer designed with pizza dough in mind. It uses an incredibly efficient gearing system to deliver 495 watts of torque despite drawing only 300 watts of power.

That allows the mixer to power through sticky pizza dough without grinding to a halt or burning out the motor. It also allows the Varimixer to stretch the dough slowly to keep from heating the dough too much. Also, you can control the mixer from either side thanks to a pass-through control knob. So no matter what side you prefer to work on, you have full control.

The Varimixer comes with a dough hook, a whisk, and a beater all made from stainless steel. I was able to hold all the attachments and they are all sturdy, just like the mixer itself. The mixer has a built-in safety guard so little hands can’t get into the mixing bowl while the mixer runs. One of the other interesting accessories with the Varimixer was an actual chute that affixes to the top of the bowl. This allows you to add any ingredients smoothly and easily while the mixer is running,

Final Thoughts

The outdoor pizza oven industry is alive and well if the HPB Expo is of any indication. There were a number of companies that are strictly focused on pizza ovens like Alfa Pizza Ovens (through Lakeview Appliance Distributing) and Forno Venetzia (along with Ooni and Witt as mentioned above.)

Then you have other companies that are getting into the pizza oven market. Blackstone was there and had their pizza oven unit with rotating stones. Green Mountain Grills, makers of fantastic pellet grills, has their pizza oven attachment to help make pizza on their pellet grills. Halo Product Group had their pizza oven there as well.

You could not get far on the exhibit floor without seeing a pizza oven, and that’s only a good thing. I don’t know about you, but I love pizza and I love making fresh pizza at home. So the more grills (and accessories) out there to help make that possible, the better it is for everyone.

Jeremy Pike

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