COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you think all pizza trade shows are the same, then you must attend the North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show (NAPICS) in Columbus, Ohio. Not only is NAPICS like no other, this year's show, Feb. 25-26, 2007, will be better than last year when it drew a record crowd of 4,500.
 
As in past years, the slate of dynamic programming will focus on the delicious duo of pizza and ice cream, and multiple experts will be there to show attendees how to make more money serving both. Hundreds of exhibitors — a record number have registered so far — also will be on hand to let attendees taste their food, talk about their equipment and take advantage of special show discounts.
 
Additionally, the day before NAPICS 2007 officially begins, in-depth daylong seminars on gelato and pizza will be offered for operators who are serious about turbo-charging their businesses.
 
Gelato: taste the difference
 
On Feb. 24, NAPICS will host a Gelato Workshop featuring both beginner and master classes. Often called "Italian ice cream," gelato is denser than ice cream and lower in fat. It's also made from all-natural ingredients. With the proper equipment, gelato can be made in the pizzeria (fast-casual chains like RedBrick Pizza and Gelato di Roma do just that) and experts will be on hand to demonstrate.
 
"Promoting gelato with pizza is a great idea," said John Kappus, national account sales manager for the Kappus Company, a frozen foods provider in Cleveland and a NAPICS exhibitor. "You can use it as an add-on business where you'd fit a gelato cabinet into your restaurant to maximize your potential."
 
In Italy, Kappus said, gelato and pizza make a natural pair. "You always see them together and usually with a coffee component."
 
In addition to the Gelato Workshop, other gelato-centered seminars will be offered throughout the two days of the show.
 
Pizza's still hot
 
February's biggest pizza party gets even hotter this year during the annual Pizza Pizzazz competition and in the show's one-of-a-kind, hands-on, exhibit hall test kitchen.
 
In its twelfth year, Pizza Pizzazz will offer its largest prize ever to winners in its Gourmet and Traditional categories: $5,000 cash to each. Every year, some 75 contestants vie for top honors in what is the largest contest of its type in America. (Visit www.napics.com to register for the contest, or call 800-282-9049.)
 
Show chairwoman Ann Reichle said crowds drawn to last year's test kitchen led NAPICS organizers to expand it this year with more top-of-the-line equipment and food ingredients to experiment with.
 
"We're taking it up a level from years past," said Reichle, co-owner of Angelina's Pizza in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. "This year we'll have 'Big Dave' Ostrander, Tom Lehmann and Jeff Zeak (from the American Institute of Baking) and 'Pizza Paul' Nyland on hand throughout the show helping attendees troubleshoot and solve their pizza problems."
 
On Feb. 24, NAPICS again will host the annual Pizza Operators Workshop, a daylong operations-and-marketing centered event led by multiple industry experts.
 
But that's not all. NAPICS features multiple seminars, speakers and events you can learn about through its Web site, www.napics.com. Attendees of the tradeshow and the advanced classes on Feb. 24 can register at the Web site or call 800-282-9049.
 
Attendee pre-registration is available for $25 until Feb. 23—a 50 percent savings from registering at the door. All Sunday and Monday events, including seminars, one-on-one help from experts in the test kitchen, to World Pizza Champion Demonstrations and much more, are included in the registration price.

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