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We visited for a show-and-tell with the community recreation programmer and one of the oven staff. They told us that the oven is mainly used during the summer months, usually 2-3 times a week, for summer camps. The kids roll out their own dough and put on toppings, the staff bake them. Kids are given hand sanitizer before they make the pizzas. Sometimes if there is a big crowd, the pizzas are taken to a room with tables inside, and handed out there. During the summer of 2015 the drop in fee for family pizza events was $3.50 and that covered the cost of ingredients and also of the staff. Camps pay a different price than the community drop ins because of City inter-branch payment procedures. (Not sure how much.) The staff can fit about 4 personal pizzas in the oven at one time, or two large ones. They try to have a big burn before the pizzas go in, and then no flames during pizza-making time -- but they say that the oven is so hot, the pizzas still get done within minutes.
There is a single sink at the prep table. Staff said it was only hooked up to water this year. It looks like there are gaps between the hearth tiles, similar to the Regent Park oven, but here it's not an issue because the ashes are moved to the back with a broom rather than a rake.
There are 6 part-time recreation staff trained to use the oven. Sometimes 2-3 can manager the oven for a program; with high attendance events there would be 5 staff at once. We asked about bakers getting sparks in the face because the hearth is at eye-level, but they said no one had even had that happen. The shorter staff use a stool so they can see the hearth better.
Once a month in summer the city councillor has a movie night attended by a lot of people. This program is run as a partnership with Parks and Recreation. The councillor pays for the materials and the city provides staff, who work with many volunteers. For example: http://johnfilion.ca/edithvale-movie-night-rain-or-shine-august-18/
Before the summer camps begin, the summer staff are sometimes brought together for pizza-making during their training days -- apparently this is a popular event.
"Yes that is what the Councillor would pay, unless it's a joint partnership event hosted by Edithvale CC and the Cnc Office."
In a follow-up with Councillor Filion's office, we were told that indeed, all the movie nights are partnership events and so all that the councillor pays is the cost of flour, cheese, etc. (although these are often donated by a local merchant).
There was no response to our income question. So we clarified the question:
"the Bake Oven costs/revenues are inter-twined with other Edithvale programming. I'll need some time to extract the information; as soon as I do I will forward you the information."
About a week ago the staff called and said the finance person was still working on this question and was hoping to respond in about two weeks.
The staff say that the oven was used about three times a week in summer, for making pizza with visiting city summer camps. There were also two film nights in the summer, sponsored by the City Councillor, when pizza was made -- but both nights had rain, so the movies were shown inside and the staff brought the pizza in.
There were no permits, because this oven is not available without city staff.
"We are moving ahead with our Outdoor Bake Oven & Movie Night at Edithvale Park this evening. Though there may be a few sprinkles, our Edithvale Bake Oven Volunteers & City of Toronto PF&R staff are firing up the oven for some of the best wood fired pizza you’ve ever tasted. Serving starts at 7 PM."
We got a look at the new Edithvale oven, almost finished. A nice marble table is fixed in beside the oven, giving a good work space. The oven itself is small (prefab) and high.
"On Thursday, August 29, we return to Edithvale Park for a terrific evening of entertainment. At 7 PM, Willowdale native Jory Nash takes the outdoor stage for a live set in the park. The Edithvale Bake Oven Volunteers will be doing what they do best - making some of the freshest pizzas you will ever find at the outdoor bake oven. I invite you to come out and grab a slice. At about 8:45 PM , we will start a screening of "The Adventures of Tintin," Steven Spielberg's animated film based on the classic children's hero."
Looks like the oven is closed for the season, although there's no sign about it on the adjacent bulletin board. The oven looks very clean -- hopefully as it gets more use it will start showing the soot one sees on well-used ovens. Staff did say, though, that they used it a lot this past season.