April 30, 2018 |

Moment with Mandy: Dare to Dream

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler

International Pizza Challenge finds new blood

For the last several years, we’ve seen some familiar faces competing in the five categories of the International Pizza Challenge. It’s always great to see what these fierce competitors come up with year after year, but also getting to know them on a personal level. It’s especially exciting to see competitors who’ve come close to winning before finally make it to the end.

Every year, however, whispers and rumors abound about favoritism by the judges. Here’s the kicker: the judges are truly blind tasting competitors’ entries in the non-traditional and traditional divisions. So how does it actually work?

Competitor A, B, C, D and E are all working on their entries at the same time in front of the crowd. Competitor C’s pizza gets done first, so he or she takes his or her two pizzas to the judging stand. The better of the two is brought whole into the judging booth. There’s no name –– just the competitor’s hand-written card with his or her ingredients and description. The pizza is then cut and served to the judges. Each competitor has his own score sheet, and the scores are entered digitally. Sometimes a couple of pizzas get done at the same time, so the judges are reliant on competitor numbers. (Also, once a work station is clean, we put in the next contestant, so we’re constantly moving.)

In the end, the finalists with the four highest scores compete in the finals, regardless of what region they’re from. The traditional and non-traditional finalists compete against the winners from the pan and Napoletana division using a secret ingredient. And THAT is how we name the Pizza Maker of the Year.

If you competed this year and have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Drop me an e-mail at mdetwiler@pizzatoday.com.

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is managing editor of Pizza Today.

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