Pizza Today magazine has formally invited Daily Show host Jon Stewart to serve as a judge at the upcoming International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas. One of the cornerstones of International Pizza Expo, the world’s largest pizza industry trade show, the International Pizza Challenge draws competitors from around the world who compete for titles in a variety of categories (including an American Pan division). Stewart, whose program appears Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central, made headlines November 13 when he bashed the validity of Chicago-style pizza on his program.
A self-noted pizza purist who, in typical New York fashion, thinks the preferred style of his city is the only version worthy of being called “pizza,” Stewart bemoaned the properties of Chicago’s namesake style. Calling it a casserole and not a pizza, Stewart’s comedy-laced tirade prompted responses from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as Windy City-based pizza chains like Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s.
On November 21, Pizza Today publisher Pete Lachapelle logged onto Twitter and sent Stewart a Tweet inviting him to serve as a judge for the prestigious pizza competition. He followed the next day by penning a formal letter to the television show host which was mailed to Stewart’s attention at the Daily Show studio in New York as well as to Stewart’s Los Angeles-based agent, Steve Levine.
“We’ll even add a Hawaiian pizza division just for him to judge,” says Pizza Expo’s Bruce Allar, who is in charge of overseeing the International Pizza Challenge and its judges. Stewart followed his bashing of Chicago’s pizza by dismissing Hawaiian pizza a week later.
“I mean, ham and pineapple?” Stewart asked rhetorically while taking his jab. “Even Chicago thinks your pizza is disgusting.”
If he won’t agree to judge a Hawaiian Pizza Division, perhaps the aforementioned Chicago mayor is onto something. Emanuel reportedly sent Stewart a Chicago-style pizza topped heavily with anchovies this week and enclosed a note that said “deep-dish with dead fish.”
All joking aside, Lachapelle’s offer is sincere: if Stewart wants a judging spot at the International Pizza Challenge March 24-27, 2014, he has it. If not, there will be plenty of other television celebrities in the house at International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, including keynote speakers Donatella Arpaia, Sal Basile and Francis Garcia.
Speaking of the International Pizza Challenge, registrations for the event are taking place now. If you are interested in competing, click here for the official registration form.