April 26, 2013 |

Pizza Expo 2013: Big finish

By Pizza Today

2013 March: Day one experience at the International Pizza ExpoAt International Pizza Expo, attendees not only have the dozens of business-boosting seminars to choose from and a show floor full of opportunities –– they also have the potential to win big in a number of contests throughout the three-day show. The International Pizza Challenge is the country’s most competitive pizza event, with contestants from across the globe competing for regional and style titles. In the traditional category, contestants could use just two toppings from an approved list of ingredients, a red sauce base and their own dough.

Baking in heats using a traditional red sauce and just two toppings, the 2013 Traditional Division regional winners were:

Northeast: Bruno DiFabio, Renapoli, Old Greenwich, Connecticut

Northwest: Thiago Vasconcelos, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco, California

Southeast: Jane Mines, Nima’s Pizza & More Inc., Gassville, Arkansas

Southwest: Michael Stevens, Pallo Mesa Pizza, Arroyo, California

Mid-America: Javier Valdez, Joe’s New York Pizza, Henderson, Nevada

International: Danilo Lupo, Pizzeria Defina, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wild Card: Leah Scurto, Pizza My Heart, Los Gatos, California • Canada: Rick Nixon, Itza Ristorante & Pizzeria, Nelson, BC, Canada

Vasconcelos won the overall title, with Mines taking second and DiFabio placing third.

In the non-traditional category, contestants had no limitations on crust or toppings. The regional winners were:

Northeast: Doug Ferriman, Crazy Dough’s Pizza, Boston, Massachusetts

Northwest: Tim Hoffman, Barros Pizza, Phoenix, Arizona

Southeast: Michael LaMarca, Master Pizza, Mayfield Heights, Ohio

Southwest: Joleen Piser, AJ Barile’s Chicago Pizza, Yucaipa, California

Mid-America: Melissa Rickman, Wholly Stromboli, Fort Lupton, Colorado

• International: Floriana Pastore, Italy

Wild Card: Lars Smith, Pizza My Heart, Los Gatos, California

Canada: Rocco Agostino, Quality Cheese, Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

Pastore won the overall non-traditional title, with Hoffman taking second and Agostino winning third.

In the American Pan division, 16 entrants were judged on taste, presentation and overall execution of the classic pan style. Jeff Smokevitch of Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado, won first place. Taking second was Matthew Heard of Humble Pie in Edmond, Oklahoma, while Matt Tierney of Jacksonville, Florida-based Pele’s Wood Fire, won third.

The Italian Style division also had 16 contestants, and all competed with traditional Italian pizzas. These contestants were also judged on oven skills, cleanliness and style. Taking first place was Michele D’Amelio of Pizzeria Testa in Liono (AV), Italy. Chris Calloway of Pele’s Wood Fire in Jacksonville, Florida won second place, while Akinari Makishima of SOLO PIZZA Napoletana Co. Ltd., in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, finished third.

The 2013 Best of the Best Championship pitted three former Pizza Expo competition winners against one another in a blind-box challenge. Mandatory ingredients included sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, pears and arugula, and the four contestants also had use of shared ingredients. 2010 Pizza Maker of the Year, Theo Kalogeracos, bested 2012 IPC Pizza Maker of the Year Shawn Randazzo and 2011 IPC Pizza Maker of the Year Carmelo Oliveri.

The International Pizza Challenge concluded with American Pan winner Jeff Smokevitch, traditional category winner Thiago Vasconcelos, non-traditional winner Floriana Pastore and Italian Style winner Michele D’Amelio competing in a blind box challenge for the 2013 Pizza Maker of the Year Award.This year’s secret ingredient was Kalamata olives, and Pastore bested the other three contestants to take home the 2013 title.

The World Pizza Games returned for another year of fast-paced acrobatic and individual competition action. Category winners were:

Individual Acrobatic –– Masters Division: Kazuya Akaogi, Red Japan Co., Japan

Individual Acrobatic –– First Division: Eric Ross, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco, California

Fastest Dough: Brittany Rowe, Six Hundred Downtown, Bellefontaine, Ohio

Largest Dough Stretch: Garrett Marlin, Uncle’s Pizzeria & Co., Ft. Collins, Colorado

Fastest Box Folding: Barry White, Pizza My Heart, Monterey, California

Pizza Triathlon: David Whisker, BC Pizza, Alanson, Michigan


The $20,000 MEGABUCKS giveaway concluded the show, with Dustin Bennight of New York Vinny’s Pizza in Federal Way, Washington, taking home the cash prize.

What’s next? Turn to page 10 and see that International Pizza Expo 2014 is already in the works! Next year’s show will be held March 25-27, 2014, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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