Detroit-style pizza maker crowned World Champion

March 23, 2012
Detroit-style pizza maker crowned World Champion

Detroit's Cloverleaf Pizza owner Shawn Randazzo added more awards to his extensive resume last week at the 2012 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, when he was crowned World Champion Pizza Maker of the Year.

Randazzo's new Detroit-style pizza was created after nearly two dozen batches of testing.

Randazzo beat a pool of international pizza chefs and was awarded champion by expert judges such as "Let's Dine Out" television host, radio personality and food critic Allan Borgen; and Bravo Network "Top Chef" guest judge and Citizen Cake owner Elizabeth Faulkner.

He won the American Pan Pizza Division by a record margin with a score of 130.65, then claimed top honors over the winners of the other three pizza divisions (Traditional, Non-Traditional and Italian-Style) in a blind box competition.

Randazzo is the first American to win the award since Tony Gemignani in 2007.

"It's an incredible honor to be named World Champion Pizza Maker of the Year, alongside so many master pizza chefs," he said. "We've said for years that Detroit-style pizza is among the world's best, and it gives me great pride to prove it with this victory."

Blind Box competition

The blind box competition included Randazzo and three other award-winners. Each competitor had a total of 35 minutes, including bake time, to present their pizzas to the judges. They had to use previously undisclosed ingredients plus a mandatory "secret" ingredient – in this case, Cattleman's BBQ Sauce.

Competitors had five minutes to collect ingredients, 10 minutes to prepare them and 20 minutes for baking. Randazzo presented his award-winning pizza to the judges with under 30 seconds left on the clock.

"Not knowing what the ingredients would be going in to the blind box competition was challenging but exciting," Randazzo said. "It's a fast-paced blitz of pizza-making, just like you'd see on a food TV reality show, and to be there in that atmosphere is incredible. It's not about making money from our pizzas; everyone there is passionate about the pursuit for the perfect pizza. We deeply care about the quality of our ingredients, the precise preparation techniques, the presentation and of course the texture and flavor."

Randazzo's champion pizza featured a blend of three cheeses topped with chicken breast, bacon, sautéed fresh garlic, onions, chives and the required Cattleman's BBQ Sauce. He won the American Pan Division with a Chicken Caesar pizza, topped with mozzarella and brick cheeses, chicken breast, Applewood smoked bacon, red onions and Caesar dressing, baked and finished with romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan and grated Romano.

Both pizzas will be served when Randazzo launches his new brand, Detroit Style Pizza Co., in mid-2012.

In addition to winning World Champion Pizza Maker and First Place in the American Pan Division, Randazzo will now represent the U.S. for four years in the Best of the Best Pizza Competition, held annually in Las Vegas.

Detroit Style Pizza Co.

Randazzo is a disciple of the original Detroit-style pizza, first created by Gus Guerra in 1946. Detroit-style pizza features dough that's soft and airy on the inside yet crunchy on the bottom, then lined with pepperoni and edge-to-edge cheese that caramelizes on the crust, topped with fresh ingredients, baked in a well-seasoned blue steel square pan, then drizzled with rich red sauce.

It's the pizza that Randazzo serves at Cloverleaf Pizza Carryout and Delivery in metro Detroit, which he owns and operates with his mother, Linda Michaels. In mid-summer 2012, Cloverleaf will be transitioned to their new brand, Detroit Style Pizza Co., which will serve Randazzo's new award-winning pizza recipe.

"Detroit Style Pizza Co. was born out of my passion for the perfect pizza," Randazzo said. "The new signature recipe is not the same pizza served by Cloverleaf. It tastes even better and passed the ultimate test by winning at the International Pizza Expo. Not just another pizzeria, Detroit Style Pizza Co. will continue our tradition of baking signature pizza that people feel good about, that they enjoy while making memories with family and friends, and that they love eating."

Owned and operated by Shawn Randazzo and his mother, Linda Michaels, Detroit Style Pizza Co. will be located in the Detroit suburbs of St. Clair Shores and Clinton Township, and will also deliver coast-to-coast via mail order.

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Topics: Cheese, Dough, Food & Beverage, Franchising & Growth, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Operations Management, Ovens, Pizza Sauce, Pizza Toppings

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