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Junior Chef of the Year gets ideas from customers


August 24, 2016
By Canadian Pizza
Junior Chef of the Year Antonio Rupolo of Gusto Pizzeria in Brampton, Ont., is proud of his title. “I put the plaque up in the store. People ask me who is the junior chef and I say it’s me," he said.

Brampton, Ont. – Antonio Rupolo, our first Canadian Pizza Magazine Junior Chef of the Year, is head pizza maker at Gusto Pizzeria in Brampton, Ont.

Rupolo works full time, which for him is about 50 hours a week.

His father opened the Gusto 30 years ago and his mother, Maria Rupolo, now runs it. The 19-year-old has been working in the business since he was 10 and intends to continue but with a bigger role. “I’m going to take over the business soon,” he said.

Rupolo said he and his mom both handle all aspects of the pizzeria, which has a staff of about 10. “She’s the owner so she’s got to be everywhere,” he said.

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The young champion is proud of his title. “We’ve sold a few of my winning pizzas,” he said. “I put the plaque up in the store. People ask me who is the junior chef, I say it’s me and I talk to them about it. I tell them how much I loved competing and how I learned so much. It was a little bit different: I had to create my own setup and everything.”

The pizzaiolo’s dough-handling technique put the competition’s prep table to the test. “I fling my dough a lot,” he said with a laugh.

His winning Gourmet Pizza featured a thin crust and sweet Genoa salami. “There were a lot of factors in that pizza and how I got to it. I combined one of my mom’s pizzas that she likes a lot and that she makes,” he said. “It has hot salami, roasted red peppers and bocconcini cheese with some oregano. I combined that with one that my brother likes, which has zucchini, roasted red peppers and bocconcini. A family friend of ours helped me put the design together: the plating, the design, the presentation.”

He often gets flavour ideas from customers. “They ask for topping combinations I wouldn’t have imagined and they turn out good,” he said.

Rupolo will take what he learned last year to compete in the new Pizza Napoletana division this year.

How to compete

If you are (or know someone) between the ages of 14 and 17, and working at a Canadian pizzeria, Canadian Pizza wants to hear from you.

For the second year, we are running a Junior Chef of the Year competition at the Canadian Pizza Show on Monday, Oct. 17.

This contest, a lead-up to the prestigious Chef of the Year competition (Open and Pizza Napoletana divisions), is a great way to gain experience on the competition floor.

Pizzeria staff both young and old may be interested in entering the Great Pizza Box Fold-Off, which is open to all pizzeria employees. The Open division is full but there is room for entries in Pizza Napoletana, Junior Chef of the Year and Great Pizza Box Fold-Off divisions.

See details about rules and prizes.

Entering automatically registers you for the free event.

Spots are limited, so sign up today!