The hum of Don Dorfmeier’s Inferno Wood-Fired Pizza truck is often drowned out by the rumble of passing dump trucks. Parked across the street from a burned-out muffler shop at 6118 Skyway in Paradise, Dorfmeier dishes hand-tossed pies to workers and the few locals who remain in the burn zone. Dorfmeier, 40, grew up in the Bay Area and studied exercise physiology at Chico State, graduating in 2007 and returning home to work in the health and fitness field for about 10 years. Rising costs of living led Dorfmeier back to Chico, where he started his pizza truck operation just over a year ago. After the fire and a couple of test trips to gauge whether his mobile pizzeria could handle trips to and from the Ridge, Dorfmeier found a home in the parking lot of the Skyway Antique Mall, which he says is undergoing roof work and may reopen in the next month or so. “Really nice people,” he says of the owners. Inferno Wood-Fired Pizza, which was burning red oak in its oven when the CN&R recently caught up with its owner, is typically open Monday-Saturday, from 11 a.m. to around 6 or 7 p.m.
What’s it like working in Paradise?
It’s pretty awesome. A lot of people think it’s a little dreary because of the fire, but the people here are really nice. They recently had the Party in the Park, and so they’re having events here. … I talk to a lot of people—it’s officially like a small town again, ’cause, you know, I guess the population is down 90 percent or something like that.
How’d you get into pizza?
I used to work at a [pizza chain] in Palo Alto. I worked there for about three years, and that’s where I really got into the business of pizza. I was just doing deliveries then, but after working there for a while they give you opportunities to make pizza. They used conventional pizza ovens. Really nice ones, but not exactly a wood-fired oven.
What’s the difference?
It’s more of an art form than just sticking the pizza in the oven. Although it’s easier to mess up, as well. … I have a lot of tools, but I don’t really use them. Basically, I know how hot it needs to be by just seeing how quick it’s cooking. And at the end I try to put the toppings right in the flame to really cook it, and then you can smell onions, the garlic, all the toppings, cooked mushrooms. It smells really good.
Which pizza would you recommend?
The garlic chicken and bacon on white sauce with red onions and cilantro is pretty popular. Probably the most popular. And we have a couple different combos, all of which have five toppings. … And then I got a few veggies.
How’d you come up with the name Inferno?
I just thought it’d be a cool name. Everyone relates it to the [Camp Fire], and it has nothing to do with the fire.