CLEVELAND - Cleveland's ahead of the game again. This time with a pizza ATM machine that delivers hot, fresh pizza through a machine.
Along with Xavier University in Cincinnati, the country's second pizza ATM is now in Case Western Reserve's think[box] building— a seven-floor building where students are creating and testing future patent ideas and technologies.
"When it was introduced to us by the university, we thought it would be a good way to be innovative and one of the few in the country," Vincent Gaikens, Campus Executive Chef at Cafe Bon Appetit.
Coming in at a whopping $65,000, the machine reflects the university's culture of forwarding thinking.
"As I like to say, this is where fresh ingredients meet technology," said Gaikens.
With the help from his team, Gaikens said it was trial and error to come up with a recipe that would mold with the technology, size of the cooking chamber and the oven's 425-degree cooking temperature.
"It's been a challenge but a fun challenge," Gaikens laughed.
With his Sicilian background at the forefront of his cooking, Gaikens used his decades of experience to come up with the perfect formula of cheese, sauce and dough ratio—all while staying within the parameters of a 11.75 inches pizza box and a set cooking time of three minutes.
"Normally, you would cook a pizza using raw dough, top it, cook it and be good to go. Here, since we only have three minute cook time, we need to cook the dough to 90 percent of its full cook time before it goes in the machine," Gaikens said.
The toppings, cheese and dough are prepared daily by the team at Cafe Bon Appetit. The prepared pizza in the ATM has a shelf life of 72 hours but Gaikens stresses they never use anything over 60 hours.
The technology in the machine is so advanced, it knows when freshly prepared pizzas are placed in the refrigerator—using the common restaurant rule, first in, first out. If something goes bad, the machine will flag it as red in the ATM's database.
Gaikens said he had to go through a lot of pizza before nailing down the perfect formula that would make his Sicilian relatives proud.
"The saying goes you never trust a skinny chef and we ate a lot of pizza within a week."