Despite freezing temperatures outside, the door to the contemporary Brookline restaurant Lineage is wide open. Chef de cuisine Richard Morin is getting ready to build the daily fire in a large freestanding wood-burning oven. “Fire is a living thing, it needs food and air,” he says. Morin builds his base with two pieces of hardwood (usually oak) parallel to each other and another across the top. He loosely crumples copies of last night’s menu and sets a few beneath the logs, along with kindling. He aims a butane torch and a flame licks the paper. The fire is slow at first but then the dry logs combust and a blast of heat comes from the mouth of the oven.
“You can’t be in a rush when you cook with fire,” says Morin. It will be two hours and more than a dozen logs later before glowing wood embers get the oven to the right temperature. “Historically, this is why a cast-iron kettle was set in front of a fireplace to cook all day.”