February 1, 2018 |

Five Can’t Miss Events at Pizza Expo

By Denise Greer


Learn from the pizza pros who have led the way

We are a month away from the world’s largest gathering of pizza professionals. After 34 years, International Pizza Expo continues to be jam-packed with a show floor, educational program and competitions that highlight industry trends, innovations and operational strategies.

Whether this is your first or your 34th expo, there are three things you will notice:

  • The energy on the show floor will be electric with thousands of pizzeria operators exploring
    500 exhibitors. It’s the most comprehensive face-to-face marketplace with the newest products, equipment and technology.
  • Competition areas will be teeming with excitement and anticipation to see who will be crowned champions. Take notes as many of the year’s hottest trends will be on display at the International Pizza Challenge.
  • There will be literally thousands of ‘aha’ moments in the educational sessions and demo areas as operators soak up new ideas and strategies to help their bottom line.

Let’s take a look at five events that you won’t want to miss:

1. The Monday Sessions

Monday, March 19 — Starting at 12:30 (Seminar Rooms)

John GutekanstYes, we’re slating an entire afternoon as can’t-miss. The early bird gets the worm — or, in this case, early-arriving attendees get an afternoon of industry-led panels and sessions dedicated to starting a new pizza company or improving an existing one. Jumpstart Expo week with a special keynote session on finding your niche by John Gutekanst, owner of Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio. Then spend the rest of the afternoon engaged in learning more on pizzeria start-up mistakes, essential systems, enhancing dough, upgrading ingredients and more.

2. Pizza Style Demos

Infusing a new pizza style into your business could be a game changer. Learn the techniques, dough-making processes and tips from veteran pizza makers. They will break down everything you need to know to try the pizza style in your kitchen. Get the skinny on:

• Pizza Al Taglio 

Tuesday, March 20 – 12:30 p.m.

Giulia Colmignoli and Christopher Antinucci, owners of San Diego-based NAPIZZA, will show you how to make the distinctive Roman-style pie.

• Detroit-Style Pizza

Thursday, March 22 – 11:30 a.m.

Jeff Smokevitch, owner of Denver-based Blue Pan and Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado, showcases the rectangular pizza style in his pizzerias. He will demo some of the tricks to get that perfect crust.

Those aren’t the only pizza styles to take center stage at Pizza Expo. Learn more on New York and Brooklyn styles. Also see what goes into making gluten-free and vegan pizzas. Check out the full lineup of demonstrations at pizzaexpo.com.

Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles

Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles

3. The Dough Masters: A Conversation with Nancy Silverton and Brian Spangler

Wednesday, March 21 — 9:45 a.m. (Room S220)

Silverton owns Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles. Spangler owns Apizza Sholls in Portland, Oregon. Together, the two industry greats will share secrets of their pizza visions, including their doughs, pizzas and business concepts.

4. Women in Pizza Panel Discussion

Wednesday, March 21 — 2:30 p.m. (Room S106-107)

Hear from four high-powered female owner-operators on the opportunities and challenges they face in the pizza business. Jacque Farrell, co-founder of Farrelli’s Pizza, moderates a panel that includes Brittany Saxton, owner of Six Hundred Downtown; Melissa Ferriman, owner-operator of Crazy Dough’s Pizza and Melissa Rickman, co-owner and operator of Wholly Stromboli.

5. Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Wednesday, March 21 — 3:30 p.m. (Room S220)

Brand new this year, we are awarding the first Young Entrepreneur of the Year to an accomplished pizzeria owner-operator under 40. Actually, you will be selecting the recipient. We’ve narrowed the field down to three young operators who will present their concept and successes, then attendees will choose the winner. This will be an exciting event that will energize and inspire you with our new generation of entrepreneurs.


We could go on and on about all of the events that you won’t want to miss. With so much happening at Pizza Expo 2018, the time is now to start planning for your Pizza Expo trip. Don’t wait until the drive or plane ride to Vegas to start mapping out your Pizza Expo week. Go to PizzaExpo.com to read more on all of the exhibitors, educational sessions and special events available. Download the Pizza Expo 2018 app from your app store and set your planner to create your Pizza Expo experience.

Lastly, don’t forget the World Pizza Games Finals at the Pizza Expo Block Party. And make sure you get your Mega Bucks game piece turned in by Thursday afternoon for your chance to win $20,000.

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