oven; you have to adjust your water content when you
cook at higher temperatures. We offer a typical thin, hand-tossed Italian crust, which gets some rise, since we don’t
use a dough press. I was inspired by my honeymoon to
Italy, so Neapolitan was the style I always wanted to offer.
The oven is the heart of our restaurant, and we can
cook anything with it: our panini breads, mushrooms or
other toppings, or salmon on cedar planks. Everything
we cook goes through the oven—even our own turkeys
PATTY SCHEIBMEIR, VICE PRESIDENT OF R&D
AND PRODUCT INNOVATION, PIE FIVE PIZZA
COMPANY ( 97 LOCATIONS), DALLAS, TX
We use a TurboChef conveyor convection oven—a very
hot, very fast-baking oven—so pizzas cook in 145 seconds. By the time customers pay, their pizza is hot, fresh
and ready to go. Fast-casual pizza has become so popular
because it seizes a part of the day at which you wouldn’t
normally get pizza—lunchtime.
People love a hot, fresh pizza with quality ingredients,
and everyone loves choices. Kids may love cheese pizza,
but Mom and Dad can have an “everything” pizza. Or
someone can work around their dietary restrictions, from
vegan to gluten-free. It’s a personal experience and a
There are conveyor-style, brick and coal-fire ovens to
choose from, depending on the type of crust you’re cooking. The important part is that they’re very hot for a fast
bake. We cook at 650°, but some operations might cook
at 800°, all the way down to 500°, depending on style
or the attributes they’re seeking. We have four different
styles of crust (Crispy Artisan Thin, Classic Pan, Traditional Italian and Gluten-Free) all cooking in the same
oven—we’re one of the only companies in the industry
doing that. Others making one style of crust have more
flexibility in their type of oven or temperature settings.
Our regional or field leaders have expertise in the ovens,
but employees don’t need expertise to work them. We
want them to create the perfect pizza, and we understand
the technology behind it. We also make, in-house, all of
our desserts, and the oven allows us to change the temperatures very quickly with the push of a button; the oven
ranges from 100° to 650°. We can also change the airflow
with top and bottom settings and adjust the speed of the
belt, so it’s very flexible.
We can get eight pizzas in the oven chamber at once.
My job is playing with the dough so they all work with
our one cook setting, but a Chicago-style deep dish
wouldn’t work with our ovens. Our formulation modifies
the dough, adjusting the blend of flour and yeast, protein
content and mix times—whatever it takes to make sure
it’s not too brown or too light and that it’s easy to operationalize and works from a financial standpoint. A lot of
balancing goes into the dough formulation. Even if we
like it, if the consumer doesn’t, we’re not going to sell it.
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.
Conveyor convection ovens at Pie Five cook at 650°F and offer flexibility for
Pie Five’s ovens handle four crust styles yet offer a superfast bake
to streamline the customer experience.