The competitor field is locked for the 2015 International Pizza Challenge, a culinary competition designed to pit pizzaiolos against their fellow pizza makers to determine the world’s best pizza maker, at Pizza Expo in Las Vegas this week.
While you await the announcement of who will be crowned Pizza Maker of the Year later this week, let’s break down what it takes to bake a world-champion pizza. International Pizza Challenge is divided into five divisions, based on pizza style: Traditional, Non-Traditional, Pan, Pizza Napoletana and Gluten-Free.
In each division, competing pizzas are judged on taste, visual presentation and appearance. A pizza is scored on crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, overall taste, creativity where applicable, bake and overall visual presentation.
See where your best pizzas would fit into the mix:
A traditional pizza-making contest with no more than two (2) toppings. A red sauce must be used on your signature dough with your favorite cheese/cheese blend and your favorite spices. No more than two (2) of the following toppings may be used: Pepperoni, Sausage, Bacon, Ham, Mushrooms, Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions and Olives. Please note that different varieties of these toppings will constitute only one (1) topping. Neapolitan-style pizzas are excluded from this division.
There are no restrictions on dough, sauce or toppings.
Styles that fall into this category include, but are not limited to, the following: Chicago, Detroit, Grandma, Ohio Valley, Old Forge and Sicilian. There are no restrictions on dough, sauce or toppings, except that it has to be a deep-dish style pizza.
PIZZA NAPOLETANA DIVISION
The products that provide the base for “Pizza Napoletana” include wheat flour type “00” with the addition of flour type “0” natural yeast, water, peeled San Sarzano DOP tomatoes and/or fresh cherry tomatoes, marine salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 mm (1/8 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 485 ºC (905 ºF) pizza oven. There are three official variants: Pizza Napoletana Marinara which is made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil; Pizza Napoletana Margherita Extra made with pressed, peeled tomatoes or chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced mozzarella di bufala DOP, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil and Pizza Napoletana Margherita made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, sleced mozzarella STG, or Fior di Latte Appennino, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.
There are no restrictions, except for all ingredients must be Gluten Free.
Does your pizza make the grade? To learn what competition judges are looking for in a world-champion pizza, read Pizza Today Man on the Street and IPC Judge Scott Wiener’s Behind The Curtain: A judge’s look at International Pizza Challenge.