Slice

My Pizza Oven: Tom Scarborough

When Tom Scarborough made his My Pie Monday debut yesterday and mentioned cooking in "my WFO for a couple minutes at 800°F," I knew we had our next victim for My Pizza Oven. Let's put him in the hot seat! The Mgmt.

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[Photographs: Tom Scarborough]

Name: Tom Scarborough
Location: Austin, Texas

Tom, welcome to Slice! We're happy to have you here first with a great My Pie Monday and now with a My Pizza Oven. So, tell us, when did you put your oven in? Did you build it yourself or have someone build it?

I built it myself, with the help of friends, of course. I began the outdoor kitchen last November and built the first fire in it at the end of January, although it was not "finished" until March 7. The actual oven itself only took a matter of days to build, it was the enclosure that took a long time.

I didn't use any plans for the design, but I did use the Forno Bravo plans as a guide to the insulation and critical dimensions.

How often do you use it?

Almost every weekend.

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Good answer! Do you cook anything besides pizza in it?

I have cooked a lot of bread, done some roasts, even dried vegetables in it. I like to use as much of the heat as I can, and have a very well-insulated door. The oven takes five or six days to reach ambient temperature.

What style of pizza do you normally do?

My family all like thin crust, but some like puffy rims, others like it thin all the way, but overall I would call it New York–style.

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A Margherita pie.

Interesting. You're probably the first WFO owner we've interviewed who hasn't copped to Neapolitan-style. ... What's your favorite topping or topping combination to make?

I almost always make a pepperoni for the kids, an Italian sausage and something for the wife, and then I go off into crazyland making anything I can think of. Italian sausage, shallots, onions, and mushroom is one of my favorites.

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A "Muffuletta" pizza.

Do you cook for friends and neighbors?

Yes, my over-the-fence neighbor gets a pie almost every time I cook since he faces the brunt of the smoke when I fire up the oven, my across-the-street neighbor likes to bring over his own crazyland ingredients, and I generally make an extra for the guys at work. (A normal batch is 8 pies.)

What does your family think of your pizza madness?

They know I'm crazy, but this is one aspect of my crazy they can live with.

Hah! I bet. ... The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes ... becomes, for him, pizza." Do you remember your first slice? Where was it from, is the place still around, and if so, does it hold up? On that note, has your taste in pizza evolved over time?

The first one I remember was, oddly enough, one that I made. I was young, maybe 6 or 7, and I fixed stuff to eat all the time. My standard "pie" was a tortilla with tomato paste (straight from the can) and lots of cheese baked in a toaster oven. Made them all the time. My uncle owned a Pizza Hut when I was a kid, so that would be the kind I grew up on.

My taste in pizza evolves daily.

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Home Slice in Austin. [Photograph: Nick Solares]

Where do you go for pizza in your area when you're not making your own?

Home Slice.

Nice. Nick Solares had good things to say when he went in April. ... What one thing should NEVER go on a pizza?

My beer. Don't ask.

I think we can imagine. ... Besides a Tom's Beer Pizza, what's the most unusual pizza you've ever eaten?

Hot dog pizza. (Pretty good, actually.)

What's the farthest you've traveled for pizza?

Not very far for pizza, but I do like to try local wherever I go.

Who would you like to see interviewed next?

Pete-zza over at pizzamaking.com.

Ah, yes. You know, I'm going to have to do a separate post to solicit possible questions from you all to ask Pete-zza. As I've mentioned before, he's possibly willing to do a Q&A, but he says, "Since the forum is about 'pizza making,' I try to limit what I do on the forum to that goal. I guess that brings out the teacher in me. If you can come up with some questions that bring out the best I can offer without boring people to tears, I would be willing to give it a go." Lemme post a separate post where we can come up with a list of possible questions for him...

That said, I'd like to thank you for playing along, Tom! Many happy pizzas!

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