Canadian Pizza Magazine

Gluten-free veggie pizza earns Raillo Chef of the Year title

Colleen Cross   

News Canadian pizza chef of the year canadian pizza magazine canadian pizza magazine chef of the year canadian pizza show carlo raillo rodolfo santo

Mississauga, Ont. – The Canadian Pizza Show showcased the skills and creativity of pizza makers from across Canada who vied for the title of Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year. This year a gluten-free pizza topped a strong and larger-than-ever field of competitors.

The fifth annual trade-only show played host to some 40 exhibitors more than 200 pizzeria operators and staff on Oct. 17 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

A gluten-free, veggie pizza has earned its maker the right to call himself Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year.

Carlo Raillo of Buco Pizzeria + Vino in St. Albert, Alta., took the top spot in a Chef of the Year competition that saw more competitors than ever – 27 in total – take the competition floor to make their signature pizzas.


Raillo, a veteran chef who took the title in 2013 and 2014, impressed the judges with a gluten-free, vegetarian pie he calls the Life Style. He made a gluten-free dough featuring a mix of wheat starch, corn starch, buckwheat flour and rice starch. He topped the winning pizza with tricolour peppers, sautéed beets and goat cheese, among other items.

Rodolfo Santo of Mastro Roberto Trattoria and Pizzeria in Woodbridge, Ont., took second place with La Pinsa Romana, which featured roasted, caramelized tomato and fior di latte on a 90 per cent hydration crust made of organic flour, spelt, amaranth and rice flour.

Raillo and Santo both win trips to compete at the International Pizza Challenge at Pizza Expo in Las Vegas in March.

Four Canadian pizza industry giants and award-winning chefs took on the tough job of narrowing the field. Gabriele Paganelli of Paganelli Bar-Osteria and Speducci Mercato; Diana Cline of Diana’s Cucina and Lounge in Winnipeg; Marina Rondinelli, former owner of Rondo’s Bar & Eatery in Sarnia, Ont., Pizza Plus Corunna and Pizza Plus Petrolia; and Giorgio Taverniti of Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto had their work cut out for them. Fortunately this year the competition recognized more winners than ever. The following chefs received awards for their outstanding pizzas in a strong field of competitors:

·      Third place: Mateusz Rzeszutek, Queen Margherita Pizza, Toronto, with La Pizza di Grano Antico featuring kamut flour and whipped ricotta

·      Fourth place: David Jimenez-Sanchez, Queen Margherita Pizza, Toronto, with Pizza alla Basilicata featuring burrata and radish and coriander sprouts

·      Fifth place: Daniel Alay, Milano’s Pizza, Etobicoke, Ont., with The Albanian featuring kalamata olives and goat cheese

·      Sixth place (tied): Meghan O’Dea, Pi Gourmet Eatery, St. John’s, N.L., with The Elvis Wedding featuring a wild river mint and lemon balm pesto sauce

·      Sixth place (tied): Giovanni Campisi, Le Cascate Pizzeria & Caffe, Niagara Falls, Ont., with Pizza La Campagnola featuring cottage cheese and smoked prosciutto

With the creative side of pizza well covered, attendees took a break in the competitive action to swap ideas on how to market their innovative pizzas. A panel of five experienced pizzeria operators and marketing experts shared their wealth of ideas on what strategies work (and in some cases, don’t work). Diana Cline partner in Diana’s Cucina and Lounge in Winnipeg shared success she has had with enewsletters and issues she has had with coupon partnerships meant to bring in new customers. Lesley Greenberg, vice-president of consulting firm CCS Creative, highlighted the importance of sharing your pizzeria’s story by highlighting innovation with younger customers and quality ingredients with the baby boomer crowd. Tony Sabherwal, owner of Toronto’s Magic Oven chain, emphasized the importance of putting your pizzeria’s principles and message front and centre in marketing material. Sandi Stoyan, owner of Mickey’s Pizza in Mississauga, Ont., said a digital strategy has worked well for her suburban market where direct mail flyers did not. Hilary Drago, marketing co-ordinator for Toronto’s Pizzeria Libretto said getting involved in community events such as meal-and-movie nights has been key to her pizzeria getting its name out there in a tough market.

More than 40 exhibitors displayed and educated attendees about their pizza-specific ingredients, equipment and services. Peels, heated pizza bags, digital signage, cheeses, tomatoes, meat and vegetable toppings, ovens, POS systems, pizza classes and mascot services were among exhibitors this year.

Canadian Pizza magazine’s Chef of the Year competition is sponsored by Saputo Foodservice, Moretti Forni, Escalon Premier Brands and Ardent Mills.

Canadian Pizza Show sponsors are Saputo Foodservice, PizzaMaster distributed by Alfa Food Service and Stanislaus Food Products.

Look for more photos this week on this website and on our Canadian Pizza Facebook page.

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