Canadian Pizza Magazine

Chef competition and pizza show unite

By Maria Church   

Features Trends

There’s only one event in Canada where you can get the latest pizza
industry knowledge while watching Canada’s top pizzaiolos compete for
the title of Chef of the Year – and it all went down in Toronto on Oct.

There’s only one event in Canada where you can get the latest pizza industry knowledge while watching Canada’s top pizzaiolos compete for the title of Chef of the Year – and it all went down in Toronto on Oct. 27.

Canadian Pizza publisher Christine Livingstone holds the microphone while Carlo Raillo shares tidbits about his Cappuccino Pizza with the judges during the Chef of the Year competition.  


Year three of Canadian Pizza magazine’s annual Canadian Pizza Show, held at the International Centre in Mississauga, brought together exhibitors, customers and competitors under one roof to share in a love for pizza.


A record-breaking number of attendees walked the showroom floor, browsing dozens of booths, taking in the live presentations and demonstrations and watching the chef competition unfold.

Presenters share insights

Among this year’s presenters was Pizza Nova’s Domenic Primucci, who discussed in his presentation, titled “From one store to 130: the road to pizza success,” his four pillars to a successful Pizza business: foundation, passion, philanthropy, and change.

Pizza Nova’s Domenic Primucci shared his four pillars to a successful Pizza business: foundation, passion, philanthropy, and change.


Change is crucial to keeping fresh in the market, he told the audience, referencing Pizza Nova’s massive brand overhaul about eight years ago.

“Growing pains are definitely stressful,” Primucci said. “But every once in a while you have to hit that refresh button because the system needs updating, and we need change.”

Canadian master baker Peter Jacobs delighted his audience with a dough demonstration called “For the love of flavour.” Using a full display of samples, Jacobs allowed attendees to visually compare dough according to yeast type and percentage, water quantity, and ingredient additions.

While regretfully admitting he has used expired yeast before, Jacobs emphasized the importance of using fresh yeast, noting that it will make a difference in the texture and colour of the dough. Expired yeast, he says, will give the dough a grey tinge.

Following the dough demo was a short panel with Jason Harris of Garlic Democracy Italian Eatery in Orillia, Ont., and John Chetti of Toronto’s Queen Margherita Pizza. Harris singled out flavour profiles Vietnamese bahn mi and the pizza cone as leading the industry in innovation and said social media advertising platform Virool was among technological tools worth investigating.

Chetti emphasized the notion of staff and customers as family. “When our tables are full and you’ve got word of mouth, that’s the best advertising you can have,” he said.

Globally recognized sommelier Zoltan Szabo topped off this year’s pizza show with a talk on ideal wine pairings and how pizzeria owners can improve their wine menus.

Chefs compete for top pizzaiolo title

This year was the first time Canadian Pizza hosted its Chef of the Year contest during the annual pizza show, and the excitement of show-goers was palpable.

Zoltan Szabo topped off this year’s pizza show by discussing how pizzeria owners can improve their wine menus.


Thirteen competitors, including last year’s champion Carlo Raillo from Edmonton, crossed cutters out on centre stage throughout the day. On the line was $1,000 in cash, and, more importantly, a prized trip to Las Vegas to compete in a guaranteed spot in the finals of the 2015 International Pizza Challenge at Pizza Expo.

Each of the pizzaiolos had 20 minutes to bake and present their pizzas to the judges’ panel. Four judges – chef and consultant Marina  Rondinelli; Tony Sabherwal, owner of Magic Oven Pizza in Toronto, dough expert Francesco Battaglia; and pizza chef Dean Litster – scored competitors on crust, toppings, creativity, bake and presentation.

Raillo had stiff competition, but amazed the judges with his original Cappuccino Pizza, complete with chocolate dough and whip cream, to snag the top spot and once again win the title of Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year.

Pizza Cotto, featuring prosciutto crotto topped with baby arugula, created by Vito Dachile of Enoteca Mozza Pizzeria Moderno from Laval, Que., was chosen as the runner up. Dachile will join Raillo in Las Vegas for the Pizza Expo in March.

From Woodbridge, Ont., Fernando Agostino of That’s Italian Ristorante beamed as he claimed third place with The Sidernese, made with buffalo mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano.

New products

During the show, attendees were exposed to some of the industry’s top distributors and manufacturers, who were offering everything from the latest oven technology, to premium sauces and toppings, to targeting audiences with the perfect marketing package.

Exhibitors capitalized on the chance to share their latest products directly with Canadian customers.

“People want to see a range of products, and they want to use Canadian products,” said Lesley Greenberg, vice-president of Toronto-based marketing company CCS Creative, who had a booth at the show.

Collis Group Inc. brought along a new conveyor-style oven from Ovenition that uses a technology called Precision Impingement to allow the user to control blower speeds using a touch screen.

On Green Go Solutions shared earth-friendly bakeware products, including containers that are designed to be compostable.

Distributor SP Sales Canada was on hand to showcase the latest Epicurean cutting boards, including the traditional pizza boards and the unique puzzle prep cutting boards.

Future customer satisfied

For Parry Sound’s Maurizio Mascioli, owner of Maurizio’s restaurant and first-time Pizza Show attendee, the show was a chance to scope out the best ingredients and wares for expanding his restaurant menu to include pizza.

A hungry crowd gathers behind judges Tony Sabherwal and Marina Rondinelli as Canadian Pizza’s Anastasia Ivaniv serves.


“We don’t do pizzas yet,” Mascioli said. “I’m here to educate myself.”

For the industry newcomer, the chance to interact with the top chefs and product manufacturers and distributors was a valuable experience.

“They’re all so friendly. You try their food, and you know you got some really serious quality here; and that’s the people you want to learn from,” Mascioli said.

A highlight of the show, he said, was watching the chefs compete during the day and sampling their unique creations.

Mascioli and all other show attendees were able to access the Pizza Show for free thanks to the support of sponsors and more than 30 exhibitors.

This year the show’s platinum sponsor was PizzaMaster distributed by Alfa Food Service. The gold sponsors were Stanislaus Food Products and Saputo Foodservice, and the bronze sponsor was the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The chef competition was platinum sponsored by Saputo Foodservice and gold sponsored by Moretti Forni Canada.

Print this page


Stories continue below