A Beginners' Guide to Wood-Fire Cooking

Live fire is unpredictable but rewarding when used correctly

Live fire is unpredictable, making the inexperienced prone to wasting product. Check out these tips to avoid going down in flames.

Use properly cleaned and cured or kiln-dried wood to avoid smoking your kitchen out with moisture and dirt.

Leave space away from the walls to maintain a free flow of oxygen for a clean burn with little smoke.

To save oven floor space, build your wood up vertically in a crosshatched tower formation.

For food that requires intense high heat and short cooking time (like flatbreads), maintain a constant flame by adding wood before it reduces to ember.

For lower and slower cooking times, build your fire, seal off the oven and let the wood burn down to embers, adding more only occasionally during service to maintain the temperature.

Mike Sula is an award-winning writer who travels the world for wood-red cooking.