Inventor Cortlandt Minnich used innovation to turn a pie in the sky notion into consistently great pizza.
People demand more of their food these days, as seen with the farm-to-table movement, organic cuisine, craft beer and more. Restaurant-quality is no longer limited to the restaurant.
“There is a foodie movement in this country where unique tastes and ingredients are all celebrated,” said Cortlandt Minnich, a more than 25-year product development professional. “The craftsmanship and authenticity of those products are recognized and appreciated. And making a great pizza at home is now viewed as a luxury.”
Seemingly everyone wants a slice of the more than $45 billion U.S. pizza market, but Minnich recognized a glaring need where the famous food and the foodies meet: it’s difficult getting homemade pizza done right on hinged ceramic grills. The “MacGyver” of manufacturing set out to make cooking authentic pizza in a Big Green Egg as straightforward as in a full-scale wood-fired oven. His culinary quest led to the Pizza-Porta invention. “Before Pizza-Porta, my backyard parties were full of stress and pizzas with charred bottoms,” Minnich said.
Making exceptional pizza on a ceramic grill requires radiant cooking from the hot, domed ceiling; a ceramic floor; and convection cooking flowing hot air across the pie. The Big Green Egg equipped with a pizza stone has those components, but the cooking process gets disrupted every time a person lifts the lid to check on or turn the pizza. Additionally, the heat flows straight up and out of the oven through the chimney.
With the Pizza-Porta, pizza dough has a much lighter character thanks to the consistent, high-temperature baking that results from people opening the product’s side oven door instead of the entire grill dome. The pizza cooks on top and bottom much more evenly. Also, there’s less fuel consumption, lower likelihood of flashback from opening the dome, easier access to monitor cooking progress, and reduced cooking time (4-5 minutes). Minnich found a manufacturing partner in Metcam, whose president Bruce Hagenau shares his love of lean processes, Big Green Eggs and — you guessed it — great pizza.
“Consumers went from stressing out about maintaining the grill temperature and guessing when to open the dome to avoid a burned pie to experimenting with ingredients and focusing on making great food,” said the pizza pioneer.