Canadian Pizza Magazine

Mosaic of pizzas: Highlights of Canadian Pizza Summit East 2023

By Canadian Pizza Staff   

Features In the Kitchen Ingredients Trends canadian pizza summit editor pick pizza trends

Canadian Pizza Summit East was a blast! Check out these highlights

Eric Luo of Pizza Forno in Oakville, Ont., builds the heat on his “Claypot” pizza, made using a biga and topped with buffalo mozzarella, burrata, soy sauce glaze, mixed Asian sausages, hot honey and chilli flakes. Photso: JACK BURTON, CANADIAN PIZZA

Every year we think we’ve seen it all. And every year our competing pizzerias surprise and impress us with their creative combinations of toppings and impress us with their skill and professionalism! It’s meant to be a showcase for pizza innovation, and this year Pizza Summit East did not disappoint!

Innovation in the kitchen

Canadian Pizza Summit East, which took place at Faema Canada’s Toronto showroom on Oct. 30, once again served as a showcase for talented, creative Canadian pizza chefs. Twenty-one unique pizzas were judged on equal parts taste, crust/bake, sauce/cheese/toppings, presentation and creativity.

Trends we noticed: Spicy and sweet combinations were popular. Hot peppers are having a moment! Several chefs described their pizzas as contemporary – a less strict form of Neapolitan (see our profile of Chef West Giuseppe Cortinovis in the October issue, for more on this emerging style).

Our Chef of the Year is Amedeo Francesco Broccolo, pizza chef at Fratelli Broccolo, a catering and event business he runs with brother Michael in Thorold, Ont., near Niagara Falls. Broccolo  wowed the judges with his truffle-forward contemporary-style pizza.


Second-place honours went to Thomas Schneider, owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg. Schneider tickled the taste buds of judges with his Detroit-style pizza, a bit of departure from his pizza menu. Schneider used high-gluten flour, a 24-hour room-temperature fermentation. Toppings included mozzarella, parmigiana reggiano, housemade sausage, jalapeno and peppadew peppers, pepperoni and whipped ricotta.

Ali Isitmezoglu of Pizza-Boat in Burlington, Ont., placed third with the pizzeria’s signature boat-shaped pizza featuring sauteed spinach, mushrooms and pulled beef.

Other highlights included an autumn pizza by Milan Cleteus Pious of 88 South in Niagara Falls, with a cream of artichoke base, charcoal fior di latte mozzarella, grana padano and toppings that included acorn squash pure, mild rolled pancetta, Montreal smoked beef, green onion and purple basil.

Luca Panzitta, chef and owner of Little Italy on 62 in Belleville, Ont., presented “The Lombardo,” a Neapolitan contemporary pizza. Panzitta described The Lombardo as “one of our top-selling pizzas, inspired by the distinctively flavoured Taleggio cheese produced in my home region of Lombardia. This pizza combines the accent flavours of Taleggio and Sicilian pistachio cream from Italy with other ingredients produced in Ontario and Quebec.”

James Biello, owner of mobile catering company La Cucina Di Ietta, in Montreal, made his “PPP Pizza” featuring piri piri chicken and Pesto Genovese applied post bake.

The award-winning Maipai in Hamilton, Ont., brought first-time competitor Kyle Mackay to the Summit. Mackay’s “The Nutty Cook” pizza was inspired by one of his favourite snacks, a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. On a traditional Detroit-style crust, it featured a blend of mozzarella and brick cheeses, baked with pancetta, tarragon/pistachio butter and roasted jalapenos.

The always creative Maurizio Mascioli, owner of Maurizio’s Pizzeria Inc. in Parry Sound, Ont., presented “What the Fig?!” featuring, among other toppings, fresh organic spinach, Carnival and Delicato squashes and fig from local farm partner Beaver Creek Organic Farm.

We were pleased to welcome several enthusiastic first-time competitors, including Josh McDougall and Ryan Hoffele of York St. Pizza of Chesley; Mitch Ferron and Jessica Demelo of Bernie’s Tavern in Hamilton; Michael Hoekstra of Bridgewater Brewery in Welland; and Vince Stalteri of Artigianale Ristorante in Woodbridge. 

Our dedicated judges evaluated 21 creative signature pizzas: Tom Stankiewicz, owner of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., and our 2009 Chef of the Year; Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto; Frank Mazzuca, principal of Mazzuca Design, Photography & Ideas; and award-winning journalist and food writer Rita DeMontis.

In a well-attended demo, Talia di Napoli, described how their crusts are made in Naples, cryogenically frozen in a patented process, and shipped to your pizzeria to be enjoyed as an added Neapolitan thin-crust style.

If attendees didn’t get their fill of great pizza by sampling the competition pizzas, they had a chance to enjoy more goodness as the Faema Canada team hosted an exciting margherita pizza eating contest. Delicious margherita pizzas were made by Faema’s master chef Pasquale Ponticello.

The Great Pizza Box Fold-Off returned with an enthusiastic group rallied by Jack Burton of the Canadian Pizza team. Allison Leroux of Amadio’s Pizza in Port Credit, Ont., won the fold-off by folding 10 large boxes in 56.3 seconds.

Judges Frank Mazzuca, Tom Stankiewicz, Giorgio Taverniti and Rita DeMontis bond over first-rate, innovative Canadian pizza.

Innovation on the floor

You had only to look around Faema Canada’s gleaming showroom displaying advanced gourmet coffee-making equipment, mixers and ovens used in the competition, including the high-temperature Forni CEKY and the smaller-footprint Moretti Forni Neapolis electric stone deck oven that keeps heat at a consistent pre-set temperature.

“There’s a lot of excitement here today,” said Samay Bhardwaj, senior brand manager for Lactalis Canada Foodservice. “There’s always a level of innovation, so whether it’s on the pizza or the ingredients or just the manufacturers, there’s constant innovation. One topic I overheard is all the different styles of pizzas and types of pizzas.”

Galbani Professionale lactose-free pizza mozzarella shreds is one of those innovative products. “Lactose-intolerant people could never eat pizza. When you have a family of five, two of which can’t eat cheese and you order pizza, two out of three people might order salad. Now there’s pizza for everyone.”

Lallemand Baking’s JC Madour educated attendees about a new enzyme-based dough strengthening solution, Essential GR 1620 WW, that can help bakeries reduce their gluten use in bread formulas by 20 to 50 per cent.

New at the show was A1 Cash and Carry, whose products include cheeses, ingredients, sauces, spices and toppings, pizza packaging and bags, equipment and smallwares, and janitorial supplies.

Reid McEachran of Ardent Mills, which has a focus on enhancing the quality of health for nutritious, grain-based flours, noted the emergence of ingredients like chick pea flours and ancient grain blends being used by pizzerias.

The Reiser team, who were at the show to share information on their Vemag Robot 500 and other small-footprint automation. Aled Bryant said it’s been refreshing to see the interest in automation  and how it can work in a one-to-two-to-three-store operation. “Automation can fit into your kitchen and it looks like this.”

Perfect Crust pizza liners were on display. The liners give grease and moisture a place to go, said company rep Ben Jacobson.

Olitalia of Italy displayed and shared information about its specialty oils and vinegars and range of products.

Thank you to our host and Platinum sponsor, Faema Canada, Gold sponsor Lactalis Canada Foodservice, Bronze sponsor Talia di Napoli and Lallemand Baking for supporting this key industry event that celebrates the art and science of professional pizza making in Canada.

Top chefs: 

  • Chef of the Year: Amedeo Francesco Broccolo, Fratelli Broccolo, Thorold, Ont. (trip to compete at Vegas Pizza Expo)
  • Second place: Thomas Schneider, Tommy’s Pizzeria, Winnipeg ($300)
  • Third place: Ali Isitmezoglu, Pizza-Boat, Burlington, Ont. ($200

To see a photo gallery of the competing pizza chefs, see the December issue of Canadian Pizza.

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