Man cooks pizza on Guatemala's active volcano using metal pans that withstand up to 1,800F


A savvy entrepreneur in Guatemala is taking advantage of an active volcano to launch a new food craze. 

David Garcia has been cooking pizza over lava oozing out of Pacaya volcano, which began erupting again in February, for the past several weeks.

He wears protective clothing and bakes the pizza on special metal sheets that can withstand temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tourists have been flocking to the mountain to have a slice and post pics on social media. 

Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in the Central American nation, and its eruptions can be seen from the capital, Guatemala City, some 15 miles away. 

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Accountant David Garcia cooks pizza over lava oozing out of Pacaya volcano, which began erupting again in February. He uses special metal trays that can withstand heats of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit

Accountant David Garcia cooks pizza over lava oozing out of Pacaya volcano, which began erupting again in February. He uses special metal trays that can withstand heats of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit

Pacaya first ‘awoke’ some 23,000 years ago and has erupted at least two dozen times since the Spanish conquered Guatemala in the 16th century.

After decades of dormancy, it has erupted frequently since the early 1960s. 

According to a May 12 update from the National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, it’s spewing ash ‘of small-to-moderate size,’ though it’s not yet threatening any inhabited areas.

‘The eruptive fissure vent on the northwest flank produces lava fountains, about 50-100 meters [164-328 feet] tall, that feed the advancing lava flows,’ the update reads. 

According to a May 12 update from the The National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala, Pacaya is now spewing ash 'of small-to-moderate size,' though it's not threatening any inhabited areas

According to a May 12 update from the The National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala, Pacaya is now spewing ash ‘of small-to-moderate size,’ though it’s not threatening any inhabited areas

‘The flow fronts have reached more than 2,300 meters [7,545 feet] distance and are slowly approaching towards the farmland of La Breña on the west.’

Garcia, an accountant, started baking pizzas in 2013 in small caverns on the mountainside.

‘I put it in a hot cave that was approximately 800 degrees [1400 degrees Fahrenheit] and it came out in 14 minutes,’ he told AFP.  ‘When I tasted the flavor of the pizza cooked with the volcanic heat, I said, ‘this is a good idea.”

When Pacaya began heating up in recent weeks, he moved his makeshift operation to a rocky area near the crater and started cooking on the lava itself. 

Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala and its eruptions can be seen from Guatemala City, some 15 miles away

Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala and its eruptions can be seen from Guatemala City, some 15 miles away

Garcia has to make sure the temperature doesn't get too high and burn the pans and the dough. And if he puts the sheet directly on a lava stream, 'I have to make sure that the pizza doesn't drift away'

Garcia has to make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high and burn the pans and the dough. And if he puts the sheet directly on a lava stream, ‘I have to make sure that the pizza doesn’t drift away’

It’s definitely not as precise as an oven—Garcia has to make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high and burn the pans and the dough. 

And if he puts the sheet directly on a lava flow,  ‘I have to make sure that the pizza doesn’t drift away.’

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The lava can reach temperatures of 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, he added,  ‘so I have to watch the wind direction so it doesn’t affect me.’

It’s a risky undertaking, but his ‘Pacaya pizzas,’ with tomato sauce, cheese, onions and pepperoni, have been a hit with tourists hungry after ascending the mountain.

Garcia wears protective gear from head to toe while working in his 'pizzaria.' With lava reaching temperatures of 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, he watches the wind direction 'so it doesn't affect me'

Garcia wears protective gear from head to toe while working in his ‘pizzaria.’ With lava reaching temperatures of 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, he watches the wind direction ‘so it doesn’t affect me’

Pacaya's frequent but nonthreatening eruptions have made it popular with tourists. Pictured: Visitors enjoy Garcia's 'Pacaya Pizza'

Pacaya’s frequent but nonthreatening eruptions have made it popular with tourists. Pictured: Visitors enjoy Garcia’s ‘Pacaya Pizza’ 

‘Having a pizza cooked in the embers of a volcano is mind-blowing and unique in the whole world,’ visitor Felipe Aldana told AFP .

While Garcia’s approach is unique, he’s not the only chef to use lava instead of an oven: In 2014 London entrepreneurs Sam Bompas and Harry Parr seared steaks over hot flowing magma.

The pair, who operate a company that creates ‘immersive flavor-based experiences,’ hired an expert to build a furnace that could reach 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and melt rocks into molten lava.

Bompas said he got the inspiration for the fiery feat while visiting an active volcano in Japan.

‘I packed some mallows and snuck over the barriers to the lava flows and roasted my mallows for s’mores,’ he told ABC News. ‘When I did that, I thought, ‘This is insane. This is how cooking should be done, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could bring it to more people?’

Bompas and Parr placed a steak over the lava and were able to cook it in just seconds, with a ‘ dense, thick char on the outside,’

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‘With all this buildup, I can honestly say it was the best steak I’ve had in my entire life,’ Bompas said. ‘It was an intense rib eye flavor sensation.’



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