International Pizza Expo- The competitions

[Part 2 of 3 posts] Earlier this month, I went to the international Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Amidst a busy time at work, I was able to steal away 2 days to see what many pizza stars, restaurant owners, and vendors consider the “Superbowl” of pizza conventions.

This post is my 2nd of three posts about the expo.

  1. International Pizza Expo- The exhibitors- Food & cool products
  2. International Pizza Expo- The competitions- International Pizza Challenge & World Pizza Games
  3. International Pizza Expo- The Seminars- Learning from the best

The International Pizza Expo hosts two famous competitions each year: The World Pizza Games & the International Pizza Challenge. Both competitions took place at the same time on opposite ends of the convention center. Here’s a rundown of each competition.

Intl. Pizza Challenge Judge... Important judges at this table

The Intl. Pizza Challenge is refined, quiet, and calculated. Different “Divisions” compete and the winners of each division also compete for the lead title. A handful of judges sit in front of up to 4 competitors and fill out complex scorecards as they judge the pizza & art. Part of the competition also involves blind taste testing. In both cases, viewers like me were able to sample the pizzas.

Pizzas from the competition

There were many competitors, so many that the list of winners was very lengthy as well. For example, the traditional division included competitors from Southwest USA regions, Northewst, Mid-America, Northeast, Southeast, and International. There were winners from each region, and then a final 1st 2nd, and 3rd place for the traditional division. Here are the four divisions that competed for Pizzaiolo of the Year:
-Traditional Division
-Non-traditional (AKA, bacon pizza or a macaroni & cheese pizza)
-American pan pizza
-Italian-style

Creating her masterpiece

Presenting his roman pizza to the judges

The pizzaiolo of 2012 was a Detroit-style pizza maker, Shawn Randazzo, from the successful Cloverleaf pizza. I love Detroit-style more & more and was so happy that he won!

The World Pizza Games is on a completely different end of the spectrum. It is loud, wild, and fun… but sadly, there is no pizza to eat. This is all about the acrobatic skill of making a pizza. Here are the 5 categories of competition for these games:
-Individual Acrobatic
-Fastest Dough
-Largest Dough
-Fastest Box Folding
-Longest Spin

Buzz lightyear twirling dough between his legs while seated and blindfolded

I wasn’t hanging around this area the whole time, but I did get to see some crazy moves in the individual acrobatic category. The pizzaiolo does a routine set to music, is judged directly after his/her performance by a show of scorecards, and gets rewarded for keeping the crowd entertained.

So there you have it! Two insanely awesome competitions took place during one crazy convention. Dough was tossed, pies were eaten, and I enjoyed every little bit. 🙂

Stay tuned for the highlights of some of the seminars I went to!

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