I made it! Earlier this month, I went to the international Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I was able to steal away 2 days from the office to see what many pizza stars, restaurant owners, and vendors consider the “Superbowl” of pizza conventions.
I’ll be posting 3 separate entries about the Expo:
- International Pizza Expo- The exhibitors- food and products*
- International Pizza Expo- The competitions- International Pizza Challenge & World Pizza Games
- International Pizza Expo- The Seminars- Learning from the best
If you own a pizzeria or a restaurant, the Intl. Pizza Expo is heaven. I walked around the insanely large grounds of the convention center and saw everything conceivable for a restaurant owner. Cheese providers, Tomato sellers, oven manufacturers, menu creators… All areas were covered. As an outside viewer, I didn’t have much knowledge on all the small details of a pizzeria and what was needed. But if, for example, you wanted to switch up your cheese recipe, there were plenty of options here!
It was clear that ‘Gluten free’ is a big deal. I saw many vendors selling pre-made crusts, pre-made pizzas, or gluten free flour. It was quite interesting, and I did taste some of the samples. At a happy hour event called “Beer & Bull Exchange,” owners talked about how they keep their prep tables separate and how using pre-made crusts allow them to avoid any gluten contamination. I found all of this to be quite fascinating.
I stopped by some of the booths that had nothing to do with pizza… only indirectly. Salad dressing exhibitors, meat exhibitors, delivery bike exhibitors, etc. All of these vendors have a strong connection to the pizza industry, and pizzeria owners look for these aspects to supplement their business model.
Of course, my favorite vendors were those that had food samples :). I fasted the whole day before this event… just kidding! There was a row of the most famous Italian vendors in the back churning out a variety of pizzas: Maria Forni, San Felice, and Antimo Caputo. Many of them were accompanied by famous pizzaiolos or pizzeria owners. For example, Mark Dym of Marco’s coal fired pizza & Spacca Napoli’s Jonathan Goldsmith were supporting the Caputo booth.
Some of the pizza ovens were just GORGEOUS. I’ve always dreamed of having a brick oven or coal-fired oven in my house or backyard. One day it will happen. There was a plethora of great products and I wish I was a pizza owner so I could be more critical about them. Luckily, my friends Brianna & Jon and Brianne & Mike offered their opinions as we walked around. Both of the couples run pizzerias and they are always looking for new ideas and products.
Stay tuned for Part 2 & 3 of my Pizza Expo review!