The Guatemalan Chef That Will Cook You Pizza On An Active Volcano

Just 15 miles south of the capital city lies one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes: Pacaya, per Forbes. After lying dormant for more than 70 years, the volcano began erupting in 1961. Since then, Pacaya has been in constant activity — spewing rivers of hot, red lava over nearby villages and raining clouds of ash as far as the Guatemala International Airport during an eruption in 2010 (via Atlas Obscura). Evacuations were made, and flights were stalled — but one accountant turned pizza chef chose to stick around.

During a venture to the volcano's crater, David Garcia had an idea for a new signature Guatemalan-style of pizza; one that's prepared using the heat of Pacaya's slow-moving lava. Just like Chicago's deep dish and New York's thin slice, Guatemala City has forged itself as a pizza capital that's unique to anywhere else in the world. After experimenting with small pizzas on the mountainside for years, Garcia perfected the craft of Guatemalan lava pizza, and in 2019, he made it into a business: Pacaya Pizza.

Chef David Garcia

In an interview with AccuWeather, Garcia shared how Pizza Pacaya started: "The high temps from the nearby lava gave it an exclusive taste and an amazing crunch. I told myself, 'This needs to continue.'" Today, Pacaya Pizza attracts tourists and locals alike, who venture up the volcano for a taste of the signature lava pie. Per Travel and Leisure, the adventure entails a bumpy ride through the Guatemalan forest to the volcano's base, where visitors plan to meet with guides and travel up the mountain either by horseback or foot — which, in an interview with CBS, local guides assure is completely safe.

Once guests reach the top, Garcia offers them a pizza with their choice of toppings. Options include meats like salami, pepperoni, chorizo, and prosciutto, as well as vegetables, including onions, olives, and peppers (via Atlas Obscura). The pizza is then prepared using dough that's been kneaded beforehand and spread across a rectangular pan. It is then adorned with sauce, cheese, and chosen toppings and cooked on top of hot magma before it gets cut into square slices. Reaching temperatures up to 1,800 degrees F, the pizza cooks at a record time of 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

A small lava pizza will cost you $35, and a large $55 (per Travel and Leisure) — but you'll get to enjoy it with a view from the top of the Pacaya volcano, an experience you won't find anywhere else in the world.