Pizza-making machine has chefs in a spin
Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:31pm EDT
By Daniel Flynn
ROME (Reuters) - A vending machine that bakes fresh pizza in minutes for a few euros has got Italian chefs in a whirl before it hits the streets in the coming weeks.
The bright-red "Let's Pizza" machine uses infra-red rays and technology developed at the University of Bologna to knead flour and water into dough, spread it with tomato sauce and a choice of topping, and cook it -- all in less than three minutes.
Its developer, Claudio Torghele, says the machine has proved popular in trials in two Italian regions, but gourmets say it is an affront to traditional methods of cooking the classic dish.
"This is not just a vending machine, it's a mini-pizzeria," said Torghele, 56. "It has windows where you can watch the pizza-making process. Kids, including my own, love it: when the machine is working, there's always a crowd."
The device was developed with help from Anglo-Dutch group Unilever, which tested it in Germany, Torghele said. He hopes to launch the machines across Europe and in the United States, with ingredients varying according to local tastes.
At present it offers four toppings -- cheese and tomato, bacon, ham and fresh vegetables -- at an average cost of 4 euros. Torghele thinks "Let's Pizza" will appeal to Europeans looking for cheap options as a recession hits their pockets. "If I want to eat a great pizza, I go to a pizzeria. But our product is satisfactory, low cost and available 24-hours a day," he said. "This is crisis proof ... McDonald's is increasing its sales. Low cost, fast food is in demand."
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