Pizza Expo Flashback: Respect the Craft
When every March rolled by, I would see an advertisement for the International Pizza Expo in Vegas. I always wanted to attend, but I could never make it work. This year, I made it work!! I even dragged along my husband, my two brothers and their partners and it was totally worth it!
From the Keynote speaker Tony Gemignani, to the Italian marching band walking us into the convention hall, I knew from the first moment this was going to be good!
Pizza has been a passion of mine since I discovered the beauty of making wood fired pizzas the Vera Pizza Napoletana way. When we built our Second Location on Broadway, we installed a wood fired oven and became very serious about making this style of Pizza. I attended the Vera Pizza Napoletana school in Los Angeles to learn the art of making Pizza Napoletana. My brother Blair and I, with my young Niece, Juliana, went on a pilgrimage to Naples to verify that we were doing this historical style of Pizza making justice.
Flash forward a decade and my passion for pizza has never left. I was more than excited to attend the “Super Bowl of Pizza Events'';The International Pizza Expo! There were a couple of things I was really excited to see. One was the Pizza Acrobatics Championships and the other was Tony Gemignani. I signed up for a pizza class with him and they don’t call him the G.O.A.T for nothing. I can’t think of any other pizza maker who is as well versed in as many styles of pizza as Tony Gemignani and believe me, there are LOTS of styles! He has spent over the last 3 decades building a pizza empire as well as inspring and teaching new and eager Pizzaiolos and Pizzaiolas! If you go to San Francisco, check out his famous pizzeria Tony’s Pizza in North Beach. There you can experience multiple styles of Pizzas from wood fired Pizza Napoletana to pan pizzas like Grandma and Detroit styles.
From Tony, I learned that perfectionism in pizza making is what sets apart the best from the mediocre. Pizza is an art form that deserves respect. Watching a pro handle dough is something I have a keen eye for. I may have shaped as many baguettes as Tony has shaped pizza, so I understand when the skill becomes as natural as breathing. It is a beautiful thing to witness.
The pizza acrobatics did not disappoint either! Think pizza spinning and dance moves. These kids make it look easy, but I know that it is not. I have some new life goals! What impressed me beyond the pizza tossing moves, was the ambition and pride that these young pizzaiolos and pizzaiolas carry within them. The future of the Pizza Industry is very strong and that is really cool!
The International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas was stimulating in so many ways! 3 days of seminars, demos, people watching, talking, catching up with old friends, looking at really cool stuff and eating lots of pizza. I can hardly believe it took me over 20 years to get here!
The words; “Respect the Craft” ring through my ears as I heard Tony Gemignani say over, and over again. I will remind myself of these words often and use them as I mentor bakers and pizza makers. Respect the Craft.
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