Canadian Pizza Magazine

Canadians in the house at Pizza Expo 2016

By Canadian Pizza   

News giuseppe cortinovis joe leroux pizza expo pizza expo 2016

Las Vegas – Canadians made a strong impression at Pizza Expo 2016, making their mark in the International Pizza Challenge, at education sessions and around the show floor.

The folks at Pizza Today and Emerald Expositions had another success in Expo 2016, held March 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Canadians had a significant presence at the event, which draws pizzeria owners, staff and enthusiasts from around the world. We had eight competitors vie for glory in the International Pizza Challenge – five of those in the Non-Traditional category.

Several Canadians stopped by the Canadian Pizza magazine booth to say hello – including Giovanni Sudano of Jim’s Pizza Palace in Cobourg, Ont., who told us about his cauliflower crust and dessert pizzas, Richard Ames of Daddio’s in Grande Prairie, Alta., who is eyeing an international expansion, and an enthusiastic team from Pizzeria Defina in Toronto, who were there supporting their competing chefs.


Many exhibitors we spoke with said they were seeing more north of the border traffic than usual, which could translate into greater availability of products in future and check out today’s trends.

As usual, Canadian Pizza magazine’s top chefs performed well in the International Pizza Challenge. Chef of the Year Joe Leroux re-created his fabulous pierogi-inspired “Chi mangia bene viva bene” pie for a final score of 23.98. Runner-up Giuseppe Cortinovis made a pie featuring Taleggio cheese and caramelized white onion to take second place in the international division of the Traditional category with a score of 18.33.

Pizzeria Defina’s Isaac Macdougall took first place in the international division of the Non-Traditional category with a lobster bisque pie. Meghan O’Dea of Pi Eatery in St. John took third with a tasty pizza that included duck fat.

Other competitors included Ashley Davis of Morris East in Halifax, Tony Vacchio of Zolas in Ottawa, Danilo Lupo of Pizzeria Defina in Toronto, and past Chef of the Year Carlo Raillo of Buca Pizzeria in St. Albert, Alta.

In overall results, Cuono Pannelli won top honours in the Italian Napoletana division and Eric Von Hansen took the Pan division. Victoria Wolf claimed the third Gluten-Free division mantle.

Brian Hall won the Non-Traditional final, while the Traditional champ, Nino Coniglio from Brooklyn, New York, was crowned “Pizza Maker of the Year.” In the exciting blind box competition, in which champs build pizzas from a surprise list of provided ingredients, Matt Molina of Capo’s in San Francisco came out on top.

Canucks also were in evidence at the education sessions. Wayne Rempel, a past recipient of Saputo Foodservice’s Pizza With Purpose Award and now out on his own as a consultant in Lacombe, Alta., delivered to a full room several solid marketing ideas that won’t break the bank. Rempel’s strategies included using a playful mascot to stimulate interest and pull in customers, staging a fun publicity stunt to prompt phone calls and of course getting heavily involved with community service clubs as a way to build trust and goodwill. He challenged pizzerias to dedicate $7 per day to marketing efforts over 16 weeks and measure the results.

Another talk by Eric Chester on how to hire the right millennial employees seemed to generate interest. Chester, a former high school tech/trade teacher, suggested focusing efforts on your best employees for referrals and clues to what works. Change your approach from fishing (placing an ad and hoping it pays off) to hunting – the targets being friends of current good employees, schools and the competition.

As usual, the show yielded several delectable demos, including Theo Kalogeracos’ fun and practical playbook for stunning dessert pizzas. Kalogeracos, a former International Pizza Challenge champ who hails from Australia, said dessert pizzas are huge Down Under and have potential to draw in customers looking for an exciting dessert option. His peanut butter and banana pizza, red velvet pizza, and a showstopper he calls “The Snowman” can all be made using either out-of-the-box cake mixes or from-scratch formulas. Check out the photos accompanying this story and look for this former pastry chef’s handy tips in the April/May issue of Canadian Pizza.

Amazing pizza-spinning acrobatics entertained a happy crowd at the Pizza Expo Block Party where publisher Christine Livingstone was a guest judge. Look for videos soon on the home page at

Look for more coverage of the show and competitions in the April/May issue of Canadian Pizza.

Print this page


Stories continue below