One disastrous encounter with a chiminea, and that was it...I was hooked!

Meet Jay Emery - "The Wood Fired Oven Guru" behind the Santorini

Picture the scene. It was 1999, and Mrs E had just bought this clay chimney thing from a garden centre.


It looked great, and we couldn't wait to get it fired up.


But it only lasted for one fire. Then it fell apart!


Mad as hell, I wanted answers. But did I get them?


(Take a wild guess!)


So I figured it out for myself


I looked at how chimineas were made, to suss out the weaknesses. And realised, the problem stemmed from a (very) inferior clay.


Turns out, our late lamented chiminea was made from a cheap Mexican clay that's fired at a low temperature. Put it out in the open, and a rain shower will turn it back to mud!


So we bought it as a ticking time bomb - it never stood a chance.


I dug further. If that clay doesn't work, which type will perform the basic function of not melting?


I started with grog - an insulating clay that could stand a little heat. I set about making my own chiminea.


And what do you know? It worked!


Without knowing it, I'd just made the very first “Bushman”. One of many, it turned out, as people kept buying them from me.


It went on. And with each new model, I refined the manufacturing process - adding new layers of heat retention to maximise performance.

Jay Emery:

The Wood Fired Oven Guru

and author of the pizza oven buyers' guide

Burning Issues and Hot Toppings

One year later, with a newly-patented process, I switched to wood fired ovens


By now, I was using chamotte - a high performance refractory clay that can withstand blast furnace temperatures (over 1400 degrees centigrade). So my ovens were heavy duty!


Word got about. I wouldn't say business exploded - it was a long, slow burn, as wood fired ovens went from novelty to the must-have garden accessory. But as the trend grew, so did Bushman's reputation. I was the Mr Go-To for a quality oven that heats quickly and retains heat for hours after the fire goes out.


In fact, before I knew it, I was the industry expert...the guy who wrote the book.


Now, I'll level with you - this wasn't where I thought I'd end up in life! I've been everything from a skiing instructor to a street entertainer, eating fire for tourists in Covent Garden! But with Bushman, I knew I'd found my calling, because it serves my one real passion - enjoying the best food there is, and sharing quality time with the people who enrich your life.


And so, the business continued to grow. And now, almost two decades on, I've personally hand-made and installed over 4000 ovens worldwide.


Not just garden ovens. We're talking commercial ovens, some in Michelin-Starred restaurants. And get this - you'll see the Bushman logo on 75% of mobile wood burning ovens registered with NCASS.


All thanks to one bad chiminea, and a dogged quest for the truth!

All this experience went into designing the Santorini


A couple of years ago, when I turned 50, I got to thinking: do I really want to spend the rest of my years driving thousands of miles a week to fit ovens here, there and everywhere?


Probably not!


Look, I love what I do. I still get a buzz from installing a new handmade oven, and seeing the owner's face as they realise they've made an investment that will improve their lives, make magic memories, and be with them for many years to come.


But I can't be everywhere at once, and I do like to sleep now and then! So I made Santorini to get my life back, save my marriage(!) and make sure my years at the cutting edge of this industry wouldn't go to waste.


Most importantly, my customers see the biggest benefit


See, I still hand-make ovens for those who want something big and bespoke. For gardens, for restaurants, for catering, Bushman is still number one. But now there's more of me to go round! Because now there's an oven for the rest of the world, too. For the hordes of people who've been waiting years for a high end model that will suit their budget and garden size.


Anyway - that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!


Santorini is the next leg of the journey, and I hope you're going to be a part of that with me...

One disastrous encounter with a chiminea, and that was it...I was hooked!


Meet Jay Emery - "The Wood Fired Oven Guru" behind the Santorini

Picture the scene. It was 1999, and Mrs E had just bought this clay chimney thing from a garden centre.


It looked great, and we couldn't wait to get it fired up.


But it only lasted for one fire. Then it fell apart!


Mad as hell, I wanted answers. But did I get them?


(Take a wild guess!)


So I figured it out for myself


I looked at how chimineas were made, to suss out the weaknesses. And realised, the problem stemmed from a (very) inferior clay.


Turns out, our late lamented chiminea was made from a cheap Mexican clay that's fired at a low temperature. Put it out in the open, and a rain shower will turn it back to mud!


So we bought it as a ticking time bomb - it never stood a chance.


I dug further. If that clay doesn't work, which type will perform the basic function of not melting?


I started with grog - an insulating clay that could stand a little heat. I set about making my own chiminea...and what do you know? It worked!


Without knowing it, I'd just made the very first “Bushman”. One of many, it turned out, as people kept buying them from me.


It went on. And with each new model, I refined the manufacturing process - adding new layers of heat retention to maximise performance.


One year later, with a newly-patented process, I switched to wood fired ovens


By now, I was using chamotte - a high performance refractory clay that can withstand blast furnace temperatures (over 1400 degrees centigrade). So my ovens were heavy duty!


Word got about. I wouldn't say business exploded - it was a long, slow burn, as wood fired ovens went from novelty to the must-have garden accessory. But as the trend grew, so did Bushman's reputation. I was the Mr Go-To for a quality oven that heats quickly and retains heat for hours after the fire goes out.


In fact, before I knew it, I was the industry expert...the guy who wrote the book.


Now, I'll level with you - this wasn't where I thought I'd end up in life! I've been everything from a skiing instructor to a street entertainer, eating fire for tourists in Covent Garden! But with Bushman, I knew I'd found my calling, because it serves my one real passion - enjoying the best food there is, and sharing quality time with the people who enrich your life.


And so, the business continued to grow. And now, almost two decades on, I've personally hand-made and installed over 4000 ovens worldwide.


Not just garden ovens. We're talking commercial ovens, some in Michelin-Starred restaurants. And get this - you'll see the Bushman logo on 75% of mobile wood burning ovens registered with NCASS.


All thanks to one bad chiminea, and a dogged quest for the truth!


All this experience went into designing the Santorini


A couple of years ago, when I turned 50, I got to thinking: do I really want to spend the rest of my years driving thousands of miles a week to fit ovens here, there and everywhere?


Probably not!


Look, I love what I do. I still get a buzz from installing a new handmade oven, and seeing the owner's face as they realise they've made an investment that will improve their lives, make magic memories, and be with them for many years to come.


But I can't be everywhere at once, and I do like to sleep now and then! So I made Santorini to get my life back, save my marriage(!) and make sure my years at the cutting edge of this industry wouldn't go to waste.


Most importantly, my customers see the biggest benefit


See, I still hand-make ovens for those who want something big and bespoke. For gardens, for restaurants, for catering, Bushman is still number one. But now there's more of me to go round! Because now there's an oven for the rest of the world, too. For the hordes of people who've been waiting years for a high end model that will suit their budget and garden size.


Anyway - that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!


Santorini is the next leg of the journey, and I hope you're going to be a part of that with me...