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Winners of the Canadian Pizza Virtual Competitions announced at Canadian Pizza Summit

Best photo, best pizza kit and best pizza recipe revealed at pizza industry virtual event


Mala Honey Pie. Photo courtesy Maipai tiki and pizza bar

At the Canadian Pizza Summit, we revealed the winners of our Virtual Competitions, held throughout September. We are excited to share the results!

Best Photo

Photo by Justin Tanada, Cowabunga Pizza

We asked operators to send in a photo showing their pizzas, their business or their team at work. The criteria are composition, originality and intent, clarity and quality, lighting and exposure, colour and how well it represents the Canadian pizza industry.

Our judges this year were Angela Simon and Chris Smith. Angela is the production manager at Canadian Pizza’s parent company Annex Business Media, where she oversees the production department workflow, scheduling and creative artwork. She also teaches part time at Mohawk College in the Graphic Design program and in 2006 received her Registered Graphic Design designation. Chris was staff photographer for The Brantford Expositor for over 25 years. He set up and taught the news photography course at Laurier University in Brantford for its journalism program. Chris has won a number of awards including National Press Photographers Association, Ontario Wire News, Western Ontario News Association and Ontario News Association.

And the winner is…Justin Tanada of Cowabunga Pizza in Hamilton, Ontario. Here’s This is how he describes his photo: “The infamous Spicy Pep from Cowabunga Pizzeria, taken in front of the shop mural. This photo captures the awesomeness of both the pizza and the vibes at Cowabunga Pizzeria!”

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Congratulations, Justin Tanada of Cowabunga Pizza in Hamilton, Ont.!

The judges found this photo inventive and appealing, with a great angle and composition, great lighting and good use of the exterior wall.

Congratulations, Justin, your photo will appear in an upcoming issue of Canadian Pizza magazine – maybe even on the cover!

Best Pizza Kit

Photo courtesy Joes Family Pizzeria

2020 was the year of the pizza kit – many of you packaged up makings for your pizza and sent it home with loyal customers who were hungry for your pizza and looking for an activity they could do at home with the kids.

The criteria are visual appeal, originality, ease of use, packaging and marketability.

Judging our kits was Michelle Brisebois, a marketing consultant specializing in e-commerce and digital content strategy and retail/in-store activation. Michelle has worked in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. As part of her role at Rich Products, she was involved in marketing pizza kits.

And the winner is…Joe Ward of Joes Family Pizzeria in Pembroke, Ont.! You’ll remember Joe was a guest at our roundtable on community earlier. Here’s how he describes his photo: “Our pizza kits include everything to make a 12-14 inch pizza (depending on your preference for crust thickness) dough, mozzarella, marinara and pepperoni. We started making them at the beginning of COVID but launched in our local No frills in January. We are in over 30 stores across the Ottawa valley and on the Quebec side. We are on track to do $350-400K in pizza kit sales by year end and are currently in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse (our pizza kit factory).

“We have also started a new initiative, “Pizza kits for a cause,” where we partner up with local charities and groups to raise money for their organizations.

“We started down the pizza kit journey to keep our 10 staff members busy and employed, they make and package all the dough, cheese, sauce and pepperoni and then we bring it to the warehouse where we store it and build out the actual kits. We are looking at having the factory start producing and packaging all the ingredients as soon as we can renovate the space into a full commercial kitchen. We will also rent out that commercial kitchen to other people who might need a space to produce local ready-made meals or other restaurants that just need extra space.”

“Joe’s Family Pizzeria has truly exemplified the art of pivoting to adapt to market conditions by launching value-added bake at home pizza kits to sell through retail grocery,” said judge Michelle Brisebois.

“The idea was born out of a passion for supporting their staff during the COVID business interruptions. The product, packaging and recipes are solid and the branding builds on the ‘homemade’ aspect of their product. By identifying new marketing channels through grocery, Joes Family Pizzeria is developing new revenue streams that will ensure it survives the pandemic challenges and that the company thrives into the future.

“The ability to see the opportunity where so many businesses only saw obstacles is what makes this pizza kit addition unique. It’s not just a stopgap to get through COVID, it’s a strategic move.”

An honourable mention went to Antonino’s Original Pizza of Windsor, Ont., for “a beautifully executed video. The storytelling was superb.”

Congratulations, Joe, your pizza kit will be featured in the magazine and you’ll pocket a $300 Visa gift card.

Best Pizza Recipe

Photo courtesy Maipai Tiki and Pizza

We asked chefs to send us a detailed pizza recipe of any shape or style.

Our judge was award-winning pizza chef Diana Cline, a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine chef of the year champion, three-time winner of “Canada’s Best Pizza Chef” at international pizza competitions and a judge for international pizza culinary competitions. Diana is partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg and a consultant to other owner/operators. Judging focused on the merits of the recipe itself, along with taste and appearance. Recipe was 40% of the score, appearance was 40% and taste was 20%.

And the winner is… Mala Honey Pie, by Salar Madadi of Maipai Tiki and Pizza in Hamilton, Ont.!

Congratulations, Salar, on an impressive recipe.

Here’s how Salar described the Mala Honey Pie in his entry: “It’s a unique creation of ours and I’ve never seen a combination of flavours like this on a pie anywhere. We specialize in Detroit-style pizza and tiki cocktails, and we keep a small but focused menu. On a Detroit pie, this one hits all the bases – crisp from the cheese crown edges and crust, acid from the pickled chili, heat from the chili/crisp/honey, umami and salt from the asiago, sweetness from the honey, and a little touch of bitter from the Thai basil. I’ve been a fan of Sichuan peppercorn and Mala flavours for a while, and I had created a wing flavour for our restaurant that used our house Mala spice and hot honey together. This started off as a staff meal experiment using those two as a base and evolved into this with some testing and balancing. I like to create a balance and contrast of textures and flavours on my pizzas, and this one is my favourite so far!”

Judge Diana Cline called the winning recipe a “Nicely detailed recipe. Very colourful pizza, nice visual.”

Carlo Raillo, owner of the newly opened Italia Mia in Edmonton, a past multiple Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year received honourable mention as having a “nicely detailed, easy-to-follow recipe and great video on preparation.”

Congratulations, Salar! Enjoy your prize, a trip to Vegas Pizza Expo including flight, hotel and admission to the show!

You will see highlights of the entries in the days to come on canadianpizzamag.com. Thank you to all those who entered the competitions – it takes heart to put your creative work out there and we applaud you!

Thank you to Ardent Mills, Gold-Plus for sponsoring the competitions, and Silver sponsor Faema Canada and Euro-Milan Distributing Inc. for sponsoring Best Pizza Recipe!

We’d also like to thank our sponsors of the Canadian Pizza Virtual Summit – Gold-Plus sponsor Ardent Mills, Gold sponsor Galbani Professionale/Lactalis Canada Foodservice and Silver sponsor Faema Canada and Euro-Milan Distributing Inc. – for helping us bring you this program tailored to the Canadian pizza industry!

Watch for more highlights on our website, social media channels and in the magazine!