A record number of attendees – approximately 6,400 people – hit the floor during the 27th annual International Pizza Expo held the first week in March in Las Vegas. The traditional and non-traditional competitions featured the best pizza makers in the world, with Detroit earning a place in the spotlight alongside Chicago and New York styles.
Some of the event’s results are listed as follows.
Pizza maker Shawn Randazzo, co-owner of Detroit-based Cloverleaf Pizza Carryout & Delivery, was the first to ever advance to the finals in both the Traditional and Non-Traditional categories.
Cloverleaf Pizza earned top honors in the non-traditional category in the Midwest with its Greek Odyssey pizza recipe, topped with lamb, cherry tomatoes, a variety of imported olives and several other ingredients.
There were more than 60 competitors from all over the world, including Italy, London, Australia and Canada.
“It was great to meet people from all over, and to have some of the best pizza makers from around the world comment on our pizza the way they did gave us great confidence that our style of pizza is special,” Randazzo said.
In 2009, Cloverleaf Pizza’s first competition entry at the North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show in Columbus, Ohio, won top honors.
Randazzo dedicated his Vegas win to Gus Guerra, who was the first to introduce Detroit-style pizza in 1946. Motor City pizza is a deep dish square with a thick, doughy crust. It is often twice baked and served golden brown around the edges. The sauce is also served on top of the cheese and other ingredients.
Cloverleaf’s mission is to spread the word about this version.
"I would like to see Detroit-style pizza get the recognition it deserves. There is no reason why this style can’t become as well known and popular as New York and Chicago styles have become,” Randazzo said.
Royal Flush Pizza wins traditional category
Jane Mines’ Royal Flush Pizza won first place in the traditional category, Mid-American region, at the International Pizza Challenge.
Mines is the first two-time regional winner at the Vegas competition, according to the Baxter Bulletin.
Mines and her husband, Rick, own Nima's Pizza & Subs of Mountain Home and Gassville, Ark.
The traditional category calls for a red sauce on a signature dough with cheeses and spices and no more than two toppings. Mines’ winning pizza honored the colors of the Italian flag, with red, white and green represented by the sauce and red peppers, mozzarella and green peppers. Mines added cutout shapes representing card suits.
Competitors were judged on taste (65 percent) and appearance (35 percent).
The win advanced Mines to the event’s world finals, where she placed fifth behind competitors from Italy.
Boston’s Crazy Dough’s earns silver
Boston’s Crazy Dough’s Pizza finished second place in the International Pizza Challenge, behind an Italian Master pizza maker. Crazy Dough’s Doug Ferriman initially created the Fire Grilled BeanTown Pot Roast pizza to earn a spot in the final round of 16, which included the Canadian and Australian champions, as well as three Italian Masters.
The Fire Grilled BeanTown Pot Roast Pie features a fire-grilled crust topped with Maplebrook Cherry wood-smoked mozzarella, sweet potato-carrot-parsnip puree, pot roast, roasted onions, truffled shitake mushrooms and a port wine reduction.
In the finals, four pizza makers competed in a blind box bake-off. Each was given 30 minutes to bake a world-class gourmet pizza only using ingredients available at their stations.
Ferriman’s second place creation was a Shrimp BLT pizza, which included sautéed shrimp, smoked bacon, roasted red pepper, a hint of ranch dressing and a garnish of lettuce and diced tomato.