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Leroux named Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year


October 23, 2015
By Canadian Pizza

Mississauga, Ont. – Pizza makers from Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Windsor, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax showed off their fine pizza-making skills and turned out a bevy of innovative pies at the Chef of the Year contest at the Canadian Pizza Show on Monday.

More than 200 attendees turned out to watch the flour fly in the Canadian Pizza magazine Chef of the Year competitions. Show sponsors are Saputo Foodservice (Diamond), PizzaMaster distributed by Alfa Food Service (Platinum), Stanislaus (Gold) and Dairy Farmers of Canada (Gold). Saputo Foodservice (Diamond) and Moretti Forni distributed by Euro-Milan (Gold) sponsored the Chef of the Year competition.

Joe Leroux of Amadio’s Pizza in Mississauga is our Chef of the Year. Leroux’s “Chi manga bene, viva bene” – which translates as “If you eat well, you live well” – earned him kudos as Canada’s top pizza maker, along with $1,000 and a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the International Pizza Challenge in March 2016.

To make the winning pie, he used cold fermented two-day-old 60 per cent hydration dough with a homemade garlic Parmegiano Reggiano cream sauce, sliced rosemary potatoes, hickory smoked bacon, red onions, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese.

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Joining Leroux in Las Vegas will be runner-up Giuseppe Cortinovis of Glowbal Group’s Trattoria in Vancouver. Cortinovis’ Vegetarian Gstyle pie featuring Einkorn flour, sliced fresh figs and a family recipe of peppers, chili and cream sauce.

Steve Silvestro of Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar in Toronto with his self-described “sexy” Alfa Romeo pizza with a mascarpone cream sauce base, gorgonzola cheese, fresh pears and bacon jam.

Anthonio Rupolo, 18, of Gusto Pizzaria in Brampton, Ont., is Junior Chef of the Year. Rupolo’s Gourmet Pizza, featured a thin crust with light cheese and light sauce, and was topped with bocconcini cheese, zucchini and a sweet Genoa salami.

Carlo Raillo of Buca Pizzeria + Vino impressed judges with his Pumpkin Pie pizza – which featured a seasonal pumpkin puree in its crust, mascarpone and ricotta cheese and boiled potato – to emerge as the Champion of Champions. Raillo, who was Chef of the Year in the open category for the last two years, competed alongside former title holders Dave Housman of Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria in Edmonton (2010) and Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto in Toronto (2011).

Winner of the Great Pizza Box Fold-off is Breanna Gray of Gabriel Pizza in Ottawa. Gray folded 10 boxes in 30.12 seconds in the mid-day showdown against Carlo Raillo. With a smile, Raillo raised his hands and conceded the contest to Gray, whose serious skills prompted several oohs and ahhhs from the crowd.

Pizzeria operators had a chance to gather up new portioning, pricing, customer service and marketing ideas at educational sessions held during the show.

Dave Ostrander, a former Michigan pizzeria owner and respected speaker who is known as “The Pizza Doctor,” opened the show with a rousing talk on how to be more profitable through thoughtful portioning, pricing and purchasing. He demonstrated weighing and portioning methods and urged the audience of pizzeria operators to calculate cheese quantity based on the square footage of their pies.

Giorgio Taverniti of Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto told a keen audience how dedicating time to connecting through social media can give your pizzeria an edge. Taverniti spends an average of four hours a day on social media and it has paid off by putting his pizzeria near the top of organic (unpaid) searches.

Jeff Dover, a food consultant with fsSTRATEGY, showed operators how businesses can build a culture of excellent customer service and staff can connect on an emotional level with customers to give them an experience that will make them return to their restaurant.

Ostrander and Taverniti joined former pizzeria owner, consultant and award-winning chef Marina Rondinelli for an afternoon panel on marketing “Hits and Misses.” The three participants shared their ideas for getting the most bang for their promotional buck in the lively interactive session. Ideas ranged from branded pizza lifters to targeting the competitions’ customers to enlisting young staff to set up your business on key platforms like Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and Instragram.

Canadian Pizza wishes to thank our sponsors, exhibitors, guest speakers, attendees and talented Canadian chefs for making this day dedicated to pizza a success!

Look for more coverage of the Canadian Pizza Show and Chef of the Year competitions in the December issue of Canadian Pizza and check out our Facebook photo gallery.