10 pizza ideas from the 2016 Chef of the Year competitions

Canadian Pizza
July 07, 2017
By Canadian Pizza
Tony Vacchio made a fun, fennel-injected pizza for the Chef of the Year competition.
Tony Vacchio made a fun, fennel-injected pizza for the Chef of the Year competition.
Mississauga, Ont. – Wondering what goes on at the Canadian Pizza Show? Creative, cutting-edge Chef of the Year competitors share their ideas and put their skills on display. Here are 10 pizza concepts from last year's Canadian Pizza Show to shake up your menu.

The Elvis Wedding

Meghan O’Dea, Pi Gourmet Eatery, St. John’s wowed the crowd with her wildly creative, locally flavoured pie. The Elvis Wedding was inspired by her wedding to husband Bart after both competed and won their division at the International Pizza Expo.

It features a wild river mint and lemon balm pesto base spread over a homemade Italian style crust.

Meghan: “As part of my commitment to find fresh and unique ingredients whenever locally available, I foraged the mint personally from the banks of the famous Waterford River in St. John’s, and fashioned my crust from the water of melted icebergs that are harvested from the ocean surrounding the island of Newfoundland.”

Mozzarella, smoked cheddar, and goat cheeses lay the foundation for roasted lamb, water chestnuts, fresh jalapeno peppers, and a cherry tomato and mango chutney that has since become so popular that Meghan has began to bottle it and sell it within her restaurant.

Caprese a l’Amadio

2016 Chef of the Year Joe Leroux, owner of Amadio’s Pizza in Mississauga, Ont., brought to the floor a pizza he says designed to illustrate simplicity and complexity.

Joe: “The simplicity comes from blending fresh picked California tomatoes and our Canadian mozzarella with a touch of California extra virgin olive oil, our tomato sauce, fresh red onions and hickory smoked bacon topped with a marinated bocconcini and a fresh basil leaf. The complexity comes from the mature four-day-old cold fermented dough that has been enriched with hemp hearts to increase the omega-3s, omega-6s the fibre content and to add a creamy and nutty flavour to the crust.”

Strawberry Breeze on Mt. Vesuvius

Sandra Porretta of Maurizio’s in Parry Sound, Ont., sweetened the proceedings with her strawberry dessert pizza featuring bamboo charcoal powder, halved fresh strawberries, trecce (braided) cheese and cranberry goat cheese.

Sandra: “I dress the pizza with additional basil leaves and drizzle it with balsamic glaze.”


The Cortinovis

Our 2016 runnerup, Giuseppe Cortinovis of Nightingale Restaurant/Hawksworth Group in Vancouver, B.C., showed his adventurous spirit once again with

His bold Cortinovis pizza featureds onions cooked slowly overnight in a fig balsamic reduction with habanero, house-made sausage, scamorza cheese, Manchego cheese and house-made fennel salsa verde. He credits Nightingale’s butcher Saddler with creating the great meat combination for the sausage and his executive chef Phil with the fennel salsa verde recipe.

Giuseppe: “My pizza is made with a long fermented dough: made with a combination of poolish and a house-made one-year-old sourdough. The poolish rests for 24 hours at 4 C before been mixed with the sour dough, flour and water. After this first mix the dough rest 40 minutes to allow the autolysis process; after that I mix oil, salt, more water, yeast and let it rest for 1 hour, after which it gets mixed again with what I call ‘the dough-slap Gstyle,’ to reinforce the gluten network.”

BB’s Deluxe

Jamie Broderick, owner of BigBites Pizzeria in New Liskeard, Ont.

His Korean-style pie, inspired by time spent living in Korea, features marinated pork shoulder, roasted garlic in olive oil and white onions. When the mood strikes him, he brings out the pizza for a couple of weeks as a rolling special.

Jamie: “While I usually stick to more traditional pizzas this recipe is one of my favourites. It combines my love for kimchi with pizza. I lived in Korea for a few years and really loved the food and still a few years later get cravings for it. Not to mention the health benefits of kimchi. The taste of the fermented kimchi with the freshness of the other ingredients creates a unique and flavourful slice that is addicting to some.”

La Pizza di Grano Antico


Mateusz Rzeszutek of Queen Margherita Pizza in Toronto baked his way to third place with this complex pie. It featured whipped ricotta and a white balsamic vinaigrette made of Dijon mustard, red onions, canola oil, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt. The dough consists of Kamut flour, “00” flour, salt, water and yeast. The pie was topped with kale, fried chilis, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan.

Pesto Chicken Pizza

Richard Anger, manager and head chef of Buoys Eatery in Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island, Ont., used an olive oil base made from scratch on Buoys’ regular pizza crust. To this he added chicken, red onions, bacon, tomato, mozzarella and topped it off with Parmesan.

Richard: “Our menu expresses who we are and what we love. Fresh food cooked exceptionally well. I strive to make the best hand-crafted pizza out there. I’m always testing the boundaries of dough and different combinations to find the next best pizza. That’s the charm of pizza: it can be everything and anything.”

Pizza di patate viola


Dean Litster, corporate chef at Armando’s Pizza in Windsor, Ont., said he wanted to make something more traditional than he had in previous competitions but still a little outside the box. His Sicilian style deep-dish purple potato pizza featured provolone cheese, caramelized cipollini onions and prosciuttini.

Dean: “I found that perfect balance with the purple potato pizza: working along the lines of a traditional potato pizza but adding my flair to it, the fresh herbs, the purple potato, the Italian Gorgonzola and the pickled bird’s eye chilis.”

Margherita with Guanciale

Marco Zambri, owner of Slopes of Vesuvius Mobile Pizzeria in Uxbridge, Ont., created an innovative pie using cured pork cheek, known as guanciale in Italian.

It featured San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil and grated pecorino cheese.

Marco: “Less is definitely more when it comes to pizza when it's done the way it was meant to be.”


La Molisana

Roberto Vergalito, owner of Roberto’s Pizza Passion in St. Catharines, Ont. – and known by many as “The Pizza Dude” – whipped up one of his hottest-selling pizzas.

La Molisana is a truffle pizza named for the truffles found in the Molise region of Italy. It is a Neapolitan thin-crust pizza topped with black truffle paste, mozzarella cheese, oyster mushrooms, dabs of fior di latte mozzarella, fresh parsley and a drizzle of black truffle oil.

Roberto: “Truffle is a type of mushroom found in the ground. There are two types of truffle: black and white. Black truffle is more commonly found whereas white truffle is more difficult to find and can cost $6,000 per kilogram. With its distinctive taste, the truffle is becoming a very hot menu item in various restaurants around the world.”

Watch for more mouthwatering ideas from last year's Canadian Pizza Show. Want to throw your hat into the ring at the next Chef of the Year competitions on Oct. 16? Register now to attend the show and/or compete!




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