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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Restaurant-quality pizza made at home

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What is more fun than eating pizza? Preparing it with friends and watching it cook in seconds in your very own sleek pizza oven, that is.

Enzo Santos first saw Ooni pizza oven at a co-worker’s place in the United Kingdom. Pizza with friends is always fun, but that particular evening instead of calling for delivery, his friends prepared the pizza from scratch. 

The pizza tasted great but what caught Santos’ attention was the sleek oven that stylishly rested on the table. It was small and compact, so different from the typical massive kitchen oven. 

Ooni pizza oven cooks pizza in less than 90 seconds.
Ooni pizza oven cooks pizza in less than 90 seconds. 

Amazed at the new gadget, he managed to squeeze a newly purchased Ooni oven in his suitcase on a trip back to Manila for the holiday break. “We gave it to my parents as a gift for Christmas,” he said. 

The oven was a big hit. “On Christmas day, we made pizza during the family get-together. It was the worst pizza [we’ve had] because we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had so much fun,” he shared.

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When Santos returned to UK, he immediately got in touch with the makers of the oven. 

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Ooni was born via the Kickstarter funding platform in 2012. Known as  “game-changing pizza oven”, the owners swept past their funding goal. It immediately captured an audience worldwide because it was handy, priced competitively, and produced great-tasting, restaurant-quality pizzas. 

“The timing was perfect because I was working in UK,” Santos said. “I sent them an email, I told my story and where I want to go. I continued the conversation with them for six months, and all throughout that time I developed a relationship with them. There were some Filipinos who were looking to distribute the oven, but because we were the first ones, we were granted the exclusive distribution.”

Ooni certainly added a new twist to pizza enjoyment. Apart from the convenience of cooking delectable wood-fired pizzas at home, it has a gas-powered model allowing users to take the oven for picnics and other outdoor get-togethers.   

“If you are a chef, you know that pizzas taste best when wood fired,” he said. The high temperature from the wood gives the crust a nice char and smoky flavor. Ooni’s gas-fired oven produces the same rich flavor. “But instead of using wood, you connect to an LPG tank. It’s as easy as plug and play,” he added. 

Ooni’s local presence immediately caught fire, thanks to Facebook and Instagram posts. “We started marketing using Viber groups of friends and family members and word spread like wildfire. When a friend posted about owning one, other friends would want one as well. We were sold out during our first six months,” Santos related.  

Enzo Santos (right) brought Ooni to the Philippines after discovering it in UK.
Enzo Santos (right) brought Ooni to the Philippines after discovering it in UK.

Ooni ovens are currently available at www.ovendepot.ph and on Lazada. They also have an active Facebook community of Ooni users where members share recipes and enjoy special deals when purchasing ingredients and supplies. 

The wonder gadget couldn’t have come at a better time. People are home and are very eager to try something new to keep their mind off the pandemic. One customer in their product review said it was the “best quarantine purchase”.

“Restaurants buy our ovens because for typical oven, 500 degrees Celsius is impossible. It can only go up to about 300 or 285 Celsius. If you are making Neapolitan, classic Italian pizza, you need a very hot oven. With Ooni, you can cook it in less than 90 seconds,” Santos shared, adding, “We have a lot of buyers who make pizzas at home and sell them to their neighbors.”

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