America’s Best Loved Italian Wood Fired Pizza Ovens
In Los Angeles, indoor/outdoor cooking and entertaining are a part of who we are. For two of our recent Beverly Hills projects, at the heart of our clients indoor/outdoor kitchen and living areas has been a Mugnaini wood fired pizza oven.
Mugnaini’s ovens have been the choice of some of the America’s top celebrity chefs including Guy Fieri, Mario Batali, and Emeril Lagasse. They have graced the pages of such publications as Sunset, House Beautiful, Food & Wine, and many more. With the heart and soul that Mugnaini founder, Andrea Mugnaini pours into each oven, cooking school class, and recipe, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her company.
We spoke with John Thess, Mugnaini’s General Manager about the evolution of their business, their process, and what sets them apart.
How has this business evolved over the years?
“Mugnaini Imports started in 1989 as a home based business with two ovens installed in Andrea Mugnaini’s back yard. This served the residential market well by offering live demonstrations in a home setting. As demand grew for commercial ovens so did the need for a showroom. In 1999 our showroom was built with four live wood fired ovens and a small commercial kitchen.
As a service based business, we found a great need in teaching homeowners and chefs alike how to fire and cook in a wood fired oven. There was no formal instruction available so Mugnaini developed a curriculum that is the standard used today. Our cookbook, The Art of Wood Fired Cooking, sums up our entire class program. One and three-day classes are offered at our Watsonville showroom, in our Healdsburg Cucina Mugnaini and week-long classes are held in Tuscany.
Another major cornerstone of Mugnaini’s success was the development of our factory assembled ovens. Typically pizza ovens are built on a masonry base which is very restricting for residential or multi-story applications. Mugnaini utilized commercial oven building practices with modern refractories to build light-weight, compact ovens that perform better than their mason built counterparts. Currently all of our home and commercial ovens are built in a 10,000 sq. ft. facility a short drive from the showroom. Despite the host of American made copies, every Mugnaini oven still utilizes the Valoriani Italian made oven on the inside.”
What are your most popular products?
“Mugnaini specializes in wood burning pizza ovens and that is the bulk of our business. We sell more ovens to homeowners but the commercial segment is very strong. Along with our ovens, we sell accessories essential for using these ovens as well as our popular class series.”
How do you approach designing and building custom ovens?
“Every oven sale starts with a needs assessment. In most cases a custom oven is not required as we offer 6 distinct shapes to work with. This is due to the nature of a wood fired oven. The oven components are surrounded by insulation so the outside is not determined by the shape of the oven. For example, most indoor installations can use our ‘built-in’ design that allows much flexibility in the final look and feel.
In the case of a truly custom design, we work with the architect or designer to keep true to their vision. Our part is making sure the final product will perform to our expectations and meet all applicable codes.”
“We take an informal approach to working with architects or builders. Often times the best starting point is a visit to our showroom with your plans and the client. Oven demonstrations are very educational and bring a sense of how the appliance will be used into perspective. Occasionally a site visit is required but either way all aspects of the installation are taken into consideration.”
What is the most elaborate piece that you’ve ever installed?
“There are so many beautiful installations of our ovens, many gracing design and food magazines. The truth is we work on the parts that are not visible so the elaborate work is all completed on the outside by the various trades.”
What is the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?
“The most rewarding compliments are the ones that come from families telling us how much their oven has meant to them. A wood fired oven really can bring friends and family together in an uplifting manner. This is what motivates us to work every day.”
For more information about Mugnaini’s Italian Wood Fired Pizza Ovens:
Mugnaini Imports, Inc.
11 Hangar Way, Watsonville CA 95076
Toll free: (888) 887-7206
Phone: (831) 761-1767
Fax: (831) 728-5570
Saturdays by appointment.
Photo Credits: Mugnaini Imports, Inc.
Photo of Guy Fieri: SANTA ROSA, CALIF – OCT 28, 2010: Guy Fieri procedurals..Copyright 2010 John Lee Pictures.www.johnleepictures.com