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COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in its history, all 100 competitor slots for the 2007 North America Pizza Pizzazz Competition have been filled. The two-day competition, held Feb. 25-26 at the North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show (NAPICS) in Columbus, is paying nearly $12,000 in cash prizes to winners and runners up in this longest-running pizza competition in the United States.
 
According to a news release, Pizza Pizzazz includes two categories — Traditional and Gourmet — in which 50 competitors each vie for a top cash prize of $5,000 in each. Second and third place in each category receive $500 and $250 respectively, making Pizza Pizzazz the highest-paying pizza competition in the world.
 
Contestants compete in first-round bake-offs in which five finalists in each category advance to a championship round and prepare their original entries again. The contest's judges rule on appearance, marketability and taste.
 
NAPICS is the largest pizza and ice cream show in the Midwest and is projected to attract a national audience of more than 4,500 pizzeria and ice cream shop operators. More than 200 exhibitors are expected to demonstrate the latest advances in equipment for pizzerias and ice cream shops.
 
Samples of new food products, including a variety of products for Italian dishes and dessert items, as well as pizza and ice cream will be available from exhibitors throughout the show floor.
 
Educational offerings include seminars and workshops featuring well-known experts, along with peer-to-peer teaching sessions. Attendees also benefit from "Ask the Experts" sessions to be held in the Interactive Pizza Test Kitchen, where attendees can "Ask It, Try It, Test It."
 
NAPICS is a tradeshow for owners, managers and operators of pizzerias, ice cream shops and fast-casual restaurant operators. It provides a forum for meeting a variety of food and equipment vendors while networking with peers and learning from experts. Advance registration is $25 per person. Visit www.napics.com or call 740-524-4123 to register.
 
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