Meet the U.S. Pizza Team

The team competes in Italy April 7-9



The U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) will be returning to Parma, Italy to compete in the 23rd annual World Pizza Championships April 7th-9th. The team will consist of 16 pizzaiolos from Indiana, Kentucky, California, West Virginia, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and Massachusetts.

The World Pizza Championships bring hundreds of competitors from over 30 countries every year to the food valley of Italy to compete for the title of best in the world in 10 categories of competition.

USPT members will compete in a total of 32 events, including Traditional Pizza, Neapolitan Pizza, Gluten Free Pizza, Pan Pizza, Pizza for Two (one pizza made by a team of two pizzaiolos), Pizza on the Peel, Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker and Freestyle Dough Acrobatics. This by far the largest team assembled in recent history for the USPT.

For 12 of the 16 USPT members, this will be the first time competing on this world stage. With the USPT having placed in the top ten in 3 categories the previous year, the pressure is on the newcomers to help propel the team over the top and bring home medals in as many events possible. New members competed in regional competitions across the country to earn their spot on the U.S. Pizza Team for a chance to represent our country in international competition.

The World Pizza Championships will be streamed live at uspizzateam.com or pmq.com/live, April 7th & 9th from 4am EST to 12pm EST.

MEET THE TEAM

Meet Vic DiOrio of DiOrio’s Pizza and Pub, a first-time competitor who has been in the pizza industry 15 years. 

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?                

 Vic DiOrio: Parma….History

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?                            

 Vic DiOrio:  NY Style

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?                                                 

Vic DiOrio:  Win

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?                                          

Vic DiOrio: Tennis and Coaching

 

Meet Bradley Johnson of Mellow Mushroom Pizza who is competed for his second time in Italy. Last year he was the top ranking American in acrobatics and has been in the pizza business for 5 years. 

   Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S culturally?       

Bradley Johnson: the most interesting difference was the daily lunch break where everything shuts down from 1-3. How nice that must be. 

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?                                                        

 Bradley Johnson: the winery has my attention, I love to see the passion people take to perfect their craft as we do.

Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc.)           

Bradley Johnson: freestyle acrobatics, largest stretch, Classica 

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?                                                                    

Bradley Johnson: Neapolitan 

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?                                                    

 Bradley Johnson: to gain constructive feed back on my culinary skills, and to stand on the podium after the acrobatics. 

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Bradley Johnson: I enjoy hiking and anything outdoors really. 

 

Meet Leah Scurto with Pizza My Heart who is a first-time competitor but has been in the pizza business for 17 years. 

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy? 

Leah Scurto:  I'm excited to eat the food, drink the wine and see the country side.  Oh yeah, and cook some pizza!    

 Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc)

Leah Scurto: The Classic Division and the Pizza For Two with my co-work Tim Silva

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Leah Scurto: Plain cheese.  I also enjoy a white pizza with tomato, garlic, ricotta and fresh basil. 

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

Leah Scurto: While winning is always a goal, I'll consider the trip a great success if I enjoy the experience to the fullest and cook the best pizza I can. 

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Leah Scurto:I love to ski during the winter and I play year round adult coed softball on our company team.

 

Meet Shawn Dugan with Shorty’s Pizza competing for the first time in Italy and only in the pizza business for 16 months. 

 Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S. culturally?

Shawn Dugan: Italians as a whole seem to soak in all that life has to offer.  I spent 3 months in Italy for my internship in Culinary School, and the way Italians enjoy every moment of free time intrigued me.  The biggest difference was siesta, where everything closes in the afternoon, everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a snack, spend time with family, or enjoy a good view and recharge and refresh themselves.

 Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

Shawn Dugan: Of course I am excited to enjoy some prosciutto and local fare at the market, but I am most excited to take my family to the town where I studied in culinary school and enjoy a pizza at the local pizzeria where I fell in love with Italian pizza and the art of pizza making.

 Q: What are you competing in in Parma?

Shawn Dugan: The Classic category with our Award winning Manzo Primo! It is our top seller at Shorty’s Pizzeria. I also will get the chance to compete with my wife in the Pizza for two categories where we will team up and create and cook a pie together!

 Q: What is your favorite kind of Pizza?

Shawn Dugan: I am a meat pizza kind of guy. It sounds ridiculous, but I still don't get tired of eating our Manzo Primo at Shorty’s!

 Q: What is your goal at this year’s competition?

Shawn Dugan: Our goal is always to bring home first place in any competitive situation, but I am excited to meet other people in our industry and learn from them as well.

 Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Shawn Dugan: There is always something food related going on in my head somewhere. I enjoy creating new dishes and then testing them out on my family as often as I can. I also take advantage of every second that I get to spend with my wife and two beautiful daughters at home playing Barbies, soccer, or watching Frozen for the 1,000th time.  Food and family are my world.

  

Meet David Sommers of Mad Mushroom who previously competed in Italy in 2013 in the fastest dough and largest stretch. Dave has been in the pizza industry for 25 years. 

Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S culturally?

David Sommers: Italy is much more relaxed

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

David Sommers: Competitions first, Winery second        

Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc)

David Sommers: Fastest Dough, Largest Stretch, Pizza a Due    

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

David Sommers: I believe pizza styles are like children, they all have great qualities and its just not right to pick a favorite

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

David Sommers: Winning

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

David Sommers: Hanging out with family, watching sports and training for triathlons

 

Meet Gino Rago of Panino's a first time competitor with over 30 years in the pizza industry. 

Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S culturally?

Gino Rago: I feel Italians are far more traditional, they take more pride in what they do and eat. Food is love and family. 

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

Gino Rago: I’m excited to see how various countries prepare pizzas, and how an event like this takes place. 

Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc)

Gino Rago: Neapolitan and Classic Pizzas 

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Gino Rago: I truly love all types of pizza, there is not one specific, pizza is my passion. 

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

Gino Rago: This experience, and being fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be here.

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Gino Rago: I love to experiment and create new lines of products and recipes.

 

Meet Tim Silva of Pizza My Heart, a first-time competitor that has been in the pizza industry for 25 years. 

Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S culturally?

Tim Silva: I don't know but I'm looking forward to finding out

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

Tim Silva: Visiting a different culture and learning whatever I can about pizza and it's origins

Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc)

Tim Silva: pizza for two with Leah Scurto

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Tim Silva: plain cheese

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

Tim Silva: My goal is to learn and have a great time

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Tim Silva: Surfing, surfing and surfing.  I do all three of those things.

 

Meet Michael Stevens Palo Mesa Pizza, a first-time competitor with 23 years in the pizza industry. 

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

Michael Stevens:  Compete, culture, and learn

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Michael Stevens:  Pepperoni, sausage

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

Michael Stevens:  Win win win.

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Michael Stevens:  My 4 year old daughter, Michaela

 

Meet Jane Mines of Nima’s Pizza, first-time competitor with 11 years in the pizza industry. 

Q: What is the big difference between Italy and the U.S culturally?

Jane Mines: A much older history.

Q: What are you excited to see or do in Italy?

Jane Mines:Local people and markets

Q: What area are you competing in at Parma (acrobatics, gluten-free, etc)

Jane Mines: Pizza for 2, Classica, Pizza on the Peel

Q: What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Jane Mines: Everyone that our customers enjoy!

Q: How long have you been in the pizza industry?

Jane Mines: 11 years

Q: What is your goal at this year's competition?

Jane Mines: Win by creating the best possible pizza

Q: When not making pizza, what are your hobbies?

Jane Mines: Gardening

Also competing is Heather Zook, Greg Spaulding, Jason Samosky, Leo Giordano, Jaime Culliton, Rick Mines (pictured above with Jane Mines) and Michael LaMarca. 

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