Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Shauna Kearns: Braddock and Pittsburgh

Oct.30, 2019

From Shauna: our last pizza night of the season was on 10/30. The night was run by myself and Mary Carey - the Arts, Information and Culture Facilitator at the Braddock Carnegie Library. Members of the Braddock Youth Project shaped the dough, ran the oven and took over the dance floor (as shown in the last photo, which may be my favourite picture ever taken at the oven).

BYP is a youth employment program that hires around 100 youth a year. The work they do is around growing and selling produce locally (they run 3 garden sites and work at an urban farm in Braddock), making food, and creating media. As a part of their program each summer, they spend a half day training at the Oven. We usually have at least one current/former BYP helping to run Pizza Nights - this particular night, Alisha ran the oven and Mikayla oversaw the dough. David Shoemaker is the local DJ (DJ Shoe) who generously donates his time to our events. He has a strong presence in the community - he runs workshops for teens and DJs other community events regularly.


Note also: international night.

April 24, 2019

Email from Shauna: "Lots of politics still bubbling around the space...but last night was our first Community Pizza Night of the season and it was a huge success."

Nov.30, 2018, a visit to Shauna in Braddock

From Jutta: Braddock is near Pittsburg, 3 hours drive from where I was staying in State College Pennsylvania. It was a rainy day, but Shauna and I put on raincoats and she took me all over Braddock. The first place was the community oven, which replaced an older, crumbling oven that was built on land owned by the then-mayor of Braddock (now Lieutenant-Governor of PA). After public funds were raised to build a new oven, the mayor leased the adjacent building to a high-end restaurant. That restaurant appears to have taken over the oven land, without much (or any) consultation:

patio look with stone floors and new tables

landscaped planters

heat measuring gauges

entrance to the restaurant off patio (mill smoke across the street)

balcony overlooking the patio

big silver pipe is air intake/exhaust for restaurant kitchen

gas line appeared, leading into oven

The restaurant staff were unhappy when there were community oven events, since the nearness of the big air intake pipe meant that oven smoke was drawn into the restaurant. (So why was it put there?) But the oven was there first, and was built with public funds. Does this mean there will no more community use?


Earlier posts:

Nov.6, 2018: a guest baker

Len Senator owns the one-of-a-kind The Depanneur restaurant. On the first Tuesday of the month he offers "Table Talk," a meal and a talk/conversation. This time, Shauna Kearns came up from Pittsburgh, where she's starting to work with bricklayers at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP) to help people coming out of prison to build bake ovens for sale. Shauna said she first met the people at TIP when she wanted to build a bigger bake oven in Braddock PA, to replace a smaller oven that was crumbling. TIP shows the building of the foundation here. What happened next is sketched on the Braddock Community Oven website. Hearing Shauna's lively telling of the story at the Depanneur table talk fleshed out the story wonderfully.

On the morning of her Table Talk, Shauna came to bake her bread (prepared at her parents' home in Toronto), and Len came to roast the vegetables for the dinner he was making for the talk.

Len with trays of roasted tomatoes and mushroom for the dinner

Park staff Heidrun showed Shauna how this oven works

eight loaves (dough made at home) go into the oven

loaves coming out

bread packed into Len's bike trailer, vegetables trays in arms

off to the Depanneur

The tables were full, the food was super-tasty, the story was engrossing, and so was the conversation before and after -- strangers didn't act like strangers anymore. As Shauna said, bread ovens can be powerful.

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Content last modified on December 03, 2019, at 06:19 PM EST