A Hand-Crafted Experience
A Recap of our Factory Training at Marra Forni
Nothing says team bonding in the foodservice industry like a long bus ride, culinary classes and lots and lots of pizza! While the purpose of factory tours and trainings are to learn about and gain hands-on experience with the equipment, the trip often leads to improved collaboration and innovation in our design and build projects. I had the opportunity to chat with some of our team members following a trip to Maryland for a tour and training at Marra Forni. Needless to say, the laughter and good times continued through the recap.
But before I dive into the experience, if you’re not sure what Marra Forni is, we should start there. The company produces a variety of brick oven cooking solutions including customizable commercial brick ovens, mobile pizza ovens and venting systems. And while so many people see a brick oven and just think pizza, that’s not all it can cook.
When the team first arrived at the factory in Beltsville, MD, they were greeted with food! After a nearly five-hour ride from our Long Island HQ in the rain, it was certainly welcomed. Everything was, of course, made in the Marra Forni oven. As I was saying before, there was certainly pizza, but the oven can also make wings in a cast iron skillet, plank salmon and other baked entrees. Our team enjoyed some variety and filled up before really getting into the planned itinerary.
The Marra Forni Culinary Experience
One of the best parts about visiting a factory, is the hands-on experience. Keep in mind, we sent seven team members and only two of them have a background in the culinary arts.
Jim, who is a Project Designer, accidentally made a pizza in the shape of Long Island. Now, when I first saw his Instagram post, I thought he was being creative … perfect for his role! I later learned it was a complete accident. There was a mishap, and no one coated Jim’s pizza peel with flour (you do this, so the pizza doesn’t stick to the peel and slides off easily when done). Well, as a result, the North and South forks of Long Island were created and the #longislandstrong pizza was born.
In addition to making traditional cheese pizza, the team also had the opportunity to make dessert pizza. While the team noted the Nutella and s’mores pizzas tasted incredible, it took some of them two tries to get that process right. Apparently, Nick burnt his Nutella pizza the first time he made it, citing the extreme temperature of the oven and what it can do in 20 seconds. Fortunately, Garin eats everything, including burnt dessert pizza. That said, I think we’ll stick to designing ovens and leave the cooking to the pros!
The Hand-Crafted Equipment
When you see something being built it often gives you a new appreciation for the result. Our team unanimously decided that gaining an understanding of how a Marra Forni brick oven is constructed certainly provided a new respect for the name. These ovens are built brick by brick (no pun intended), and each oven can be customized with a variety of colors, or even have a logo mosaic on it!
The photos below show some of the process. From left: Beginning of the custom mosaic tile with logo, a mason tiling the dome, and one version of the final product.
A few observations the team made about the building process:
The construction of the brick oven is impressive as it is made from two domes. The inner dome offers the cooking technology, and the outer dome is completely customizable. While these ovens are often seen as a design focal point, they can also be built into the wall.
Each mason at Marra Forni is professionally trained, completing a five-year training program. Nick Formica, Project Manager, noted how incredible and controlled the process was. The mason seemed to know exactly how much tile and mortar he needed for each piece.
We love knowing that Marra Forni hires men and women to be masons. It’s rare to see women in these roles and it’s definitely something to be proud of when having this equipment installed on a site. According to OSHA, only 9% of United States construction workers are women.
In addition, having the opportunity to see these ovens being constructed, led to a discussion amongst our team on a variety of ways these ovens can be delivered and installed. Of course, we always have professional installers on our project sites, but our team is always developing innovative ways to implement your foodservice solutions. After all, it’s not easy to get a Marra Forni oven into a Manhattan skyscraper, but we’ve done it!
Congratulations to our team members who graduated Pizza University and thank you to them all for collaborating on this post:
Jim Collins, Project Designer Nick Formica, Project Manager Kassi Grant, Senior Project Designer Jordan Siegler, Director of Project Coordination Jenna Sperl, Senior Project Coordinator Natalie Steimle, Project Designer Garin Wong, Project Director And, of course, thank you to Chef Anthony of BSE Marketing and the team at Marra Forni for sharing their knowledge and hospitality.