March 15, 2018 |

Ready for International Pizza Challenge?

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler


If you’re competing in the International Pizza Challenge, you should already have  your ingredients packed and your dough ingredients lined up and ready to go. Every year, I field calls from contestants wondering how they get their topping, cheese and dough to the show. Some hit the grocery stores when they hit Las Vegas, others carefully pack their their ingredients and ship the on coolers as air baggage. We frequently see those coolers at baggage claim and knowing give each other looks.

There is a meeting on Monday at 4 pm at the back of the show floor in IP. 1

Here are some of the most common questions we get:

  • If you’re competing in traditional, your pizza must be 12-inches in diameter. 
  • You are allowed only two ingredients, but you may use multiple version of, say, pork, such as pancetta and bacon.
  • You can mix basil in your sauce, but you cannot add it to the top. Same applies for a meat sauce. If it is so finely ground in your sauce that it can’t be detected as a third ingredient, go for it. Otherwise, we’ve had to disqualify contestants for adding chunks of sausage to their sauce, making it a third — and illegal topping.
  • In non-traditional, anything goes — but up to a point. Remember that adding a giant board of pheasant feathers, Italian bricks and that bottle of Malbec you’ve been holding onto since the Bush administration is lovely. Unfortunately, the judges have 48 more pizzas after yours to try. 
  • You do NOT get to present your pizza to the judges in traditional or non-traditional because we have 60 competitors each; however in pan and Napoletana, you are able to present to the judges competitors in each division, Napoletana moves fairly quickly; however, pan will be broken down over two days to allow each thicker crust pizza to bake.
  • You will create two pizzas and are allowed to chose your best pizza to show. 
  • Test bakes are not allowed.
  • Ask Michael LaMarca (pan and Neapolitan) or Jeremy Galvin or Mandy Detwiler (traditional and non-traditional) before moving the oven temperatures.
  • Absolutely do not miss your time slot. We WILL disqualify you.
  • Being enough ingredients — and dough — for at least six pizzas. Should you make it to the finals, you will make your exact pizzas again. Often, people run out of dough. Remember that the judges liked YOUR dough, not whatever you can gather up in a panic.
  • The blind judges truly are blind. They can’t hear a thing in that judging booth. I know because I’ve been in there!

Have any more questions? Ask away and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. Good luck!

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