CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. — The five-man World Pizza Champions team grabbed three medals during the World Pizza Championships, held in Salsomaggiore, Italy, March 14-16.
According to team captain Tony Gemignani, the medal haul marked the most ever by any U.S. team.
"We'd hoped to get a gold, but we're not going to complain about two silvers and a bronze," said Gemignani, co-owner of Pyzano's Pizzeria in Castro Valley. "This really showed that we're as good as any team out there and that we can compete at the highest level."
The WPC took the silver medal in the Team Acrobatic competition, marking the first time any U.S. Team has placed in this event. Other team members participating were Michael Shepherd, Ken Bryant, Joe Carlucci and Siler Chapman.
But the contest wasn't without controversy. When the Italian judge on the 10-judge international panel scored the WPC team much lower than the rest of the judges, an argument erupted between him and judges from France and England.
"There was a lot of yelling and screaming over it; it was pretty rough for a while," said Gemignani. "We did a great routine and the other judges scored us well for it."
Shepherd took the silver in the Fastest Pizza Maker contest — despite breaking the world record in his attempt. U.S. Pizza Team member Brian Edler, a Domino's Pizza franchisee in Findlay, Ohio, followed Shepherd's jaw-dropping performance with an even better time.
"We just couldn't believe it," said Gemignani. "Brian was incredible that day."
Gemignani, a five-time world champion individual freestyle dough tosser, took the bronze medal with a routine "that paid homage to the unique dough throwing styles of Japan, Spain, Italy and the U.S."
His performance marked the end of a three-year-long layoff from competition, a time in which he coached members of the United States Pizza Team. However, Gemignani's return to the fray ended as quickly as it began.
"That's it, I'm done," he said. "I said going in to this that I wanted one more shot. I got it, I did my best, I did a really good routine and that's it."