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August 31, 2011

The Chef Who Played with Fire

By Nick Fauchald | Food

Great balls of fire. Photo courtesy of Fontana

Your days of warm, sunny evenings manning the grill are numbered. But that doesn't mean you have to bring the cooking indoors come fall. Consider the outdoor oven, an ancient cooking vessel that's become the latest piece of must-have equipment for the project cook. For those who don't have the DIY wherewithal to build their own, Italy's finest alfresco oven is now available in the U.S. The Fontana Gusto combines nature's best fuel (wood) with the trappings of an indoor range. The upper chamber has a moisture-absorbing stone bottom (for crisp-bottomed pizzas and crusty breads) and room for three racks (for everything else), plus a thermometer, a timer and a convection fan for even cooking. After a 45-minute warm-up, the oven can hit temperatures upward of 700 degrees, which rivals the fire-breathing beast at your local pizzeria. And come Thanksgiving, it'll swallow your turkey whole and spit it out burnished and kissed with smoke. From $5,000, williams-sonoma.com.

Why bother cooking yourself? Here's how to find a private chef