Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Traveling to Italy with the US Pizza Team and learning the secrets of good Italian pizza

While this doesn't necessarily tie into social media this week, I wanted to share the secrets of how to win at the World Pizza Championship after meeting Giseppe Conte in Verona. I spent a week in Italy at the championships tweeting and posting on Facebook all about the competition. If you are not a friend of PMQ Pizza Magazine or US Pizza Team on Facebook, like the pages now to catch up on the competition and journey. You should also definitely read at how the team fared by reading Pizza Without Borders and the results at PMQ.

Giseppe is a long-time competitor at the World Pizza Championship in Parma and he also competes in Las Vegas. He has learned the tricks of what judges in both countries are looking for and adapted his pizza style for the competitions. Giseppe has won first place at the World Pizza Championships in fastest pizza making and in pan culinary competition.

Giseppe is the owner of two pizzerias in Verona, Italy, set in the Northern valley under the Italian Alps, only an hour from Milan and perhaps two from Parma. His long time restaurant La Conchiglia sits by the Lake Garda in an idyllic area of Verona. His newer pizzeria, Pizzeria Olympica is nestled at the foot of the Roman Coliseum which is at the heart of downtown Verona in the Piazza Bra.

Giseppe sat down with myself and Daniel Lee Perea of PMQ to talk American vs Italian pizza shortly after the 2014 competition. Giseppe made a slice of pizza that he makes for the American competition and a slice he makes for the competition in Italy and had us taste test the differences.

In the Italian style pizza, there was less than 3 toppings with cheese and dough the first flavors to come through. Giseppe said that the judges look primarily at the dough, how it rises, bakes and the look when judging. But the trick is that for many, they are used to the Italian style flavors and less toppings.
Next we tried the American style pizza and while the numerous toppings were flavorful, the crust was overpowered and not the first thing you could taste.

Giseppe's employee also won this year for the best from Marocco. While she lives in Italy and works in his pizza shop, where she learned how to cook, she is a still a citizen of her country and competed for it.

Giseppe also is a master pizzaiolo and provides instruction to anyone who wants to compete. He said the differences between Italian and American pizza are only a different focus on what comes first, the crust or the toppings. Italians are used to a hint of the toppings but not tasting them until they get into the pizza, almost as a surprise but Americans want the toppings piled on and see what they are getting.

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