The Wolf Leads the Pack at U.S. Pizza Team's West Coast Trials (With Video)

The People's Choice Award went to Leah Scurto of Pizza My Heart.



 

Michael “The Wolf” Athanasopoulos, owner of the Lamb and the Wolf in Sacramento, California, earned top honors at this year’s West Coast Pizza Trials for the U.S. Pizza Team. Thanks to a pizza featuring three types of sausage and a unique tomato marmalade, Athanasopoulos went home as a champion and the newest USPT member. He also earned a chance to compete in the World Pizza Championship in Italy next spring and won a Food Network Golden Ticket to compete in the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Ala. this fall.

Limited ingredients and cooking methods kept all the competitors thinking outside the box on preparation and execution. The Wolf out-baked the competition with his sausage and pepper pie. Starting with a spicy tomato marmalade base, the pie was topped with green and red peppers sautéed in lemon olive oil. Three types of sausage—a mild, spicy and red wine/rosemary blend—rounded out the flavors. The pizza was finished with the marmalade and cooked in a wood-fired oven at 650°.

Second place went to USPT veteran Michael LaMarca, owner of Master Pizza in Cleveland, Ohio, with his Detroit Rock City pizza. This Detroit-style pizza had a pillowy crust with the distinct crusty caramelization of the cheese around the edges. It was topped with a 50/50 blend of mozzarella and provolone cheese and a housemade red sauce featuring “tomato velvet,” the fleshy skin of the tomato showcasing all the texture, flavor and eye appeal. The Detroit Rock City was finished off with a dusting of Pecorino Romano cheese after the bake.

Bringing in third place was Vincent Rotolo of Evel Pie in Las Vegas, with his Mushroom and portobellos, roasted maitake, shiitake, chanterelle, bunashimeji, baby king oyster and blue foot mushrooms, plus cheese blends consisting of aged Parmesan, a 50/50 mozz blend, shaved truffle caciocavallo, smoked scamorza, fresh smoked mozz and Grand Cru Pecorino with black truffles. The pie also included several different onion types, including Vidalia onions, pearl onions, chopped and caramelized red onions, and deep-fried shallots.

The "Bacon Babe" Jodi Taffel

The West Coast Trials also offered an Iron Chef event voted on by the public. This event let each of the competitors bring their best pie to the table while incorporating a secret ingredient, Black Cherries, and was sponsored by Amarena Toschi Cherries. The People’s Choice Award and second Golden Ticket went to Leah Scurto of Pizza My Heart in the San Francisco Bay area. She created a “Lemon Pie Pizza” using a cream sauce, sliced lemons and Toschi black cherries.

Hosted by Dominic’s Italian Restaurant in Oceanside, California, the event featured celebrity judge Jodi Taffel, the Bacon Babe of the Food Network.

The World Food Championship will be held November 8-14 in Orange Beach, Ala. The Golden Tickets are courtesy of Food Network Judge Jodi Taffel, also known as “The Bacon Babe.” Both winners also received engraved butcher knives sponsored by Gunter Wilhelm.

The 2017 West Coast Pizza Trials are sponsored by Regal Wine Company, Gunter Wilhelm, Young’s Market Company, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Mission Brewery, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Garage Brewing, Red Oven Artisanal Pizza and Pasta, Wine Warehouse, Jacmar Foodservice Distribution and Dominic’s Italian Restaurant.

The U.S. Pizza Team is sponsored by American Baking Systems, Paradise Tomato Kitchen, Gordon Food Service, Grain Craft, California Milk Advisory Board, La Nova, SoFo Foods, Bag Solutions, Fontanini, Marsal & Sons, Lillsun, Lloyd Pans, Pivetti, Presto, and Univex.

 

Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

The Pizza Kitchen - The Little Sur (feat. Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella)

PMQ Chef Brian Hernandez demonstrates a delicious, vegan, west coast-influenced blend of flavors courtesy of Pizza My Heart in California using Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Shreds.

Scientists Try to Prove Why Wood-Burning Ovens are Best

Scientists reveal why they believe cooking pizza in a wood-burning oven is superior to cooking one in an electric oven.

The Pizza Kitchen - Caputo Americana Flour

Brian Hernandez and Chef Michele D'Amelio demonstrate American pizza styles using Caputo "00" Americana flour. Caputo Americana is a flour developed specifically for use in American pizza styles.

Midwest U.S. Pizza Cup - Gluten-Free

Pizza makers from all across the nation met and advanced the art of pizza in this U.S. Pizza Team sanctioned event, held at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy outside Chicago, Illinois.

Midwest U.S. Pizza Cup - Classico Results

There was double-trouble in the Windy City as an unprecedented tie for first occurred among the 23 pizza masters vying for the U.S. Pizza Cup. Pizza makers from all across the nation met and advanced the art of pizza in this U.S. Pizza Team sanctioned event, held at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy outside Chicago, Illinois.

The Fight for Local Pizza

PMQ Publisher, Steve Green, and Founder and CEO of Slice, Ilir Sela, discuss the pizza industry and how independent pizzerias can compete with the help of technology.

California Dreamin’: How Golden State pizza chefs used fresh, local and seasonal ingredients to develop a pizza style that has spread across the country

Experts break down their approaches to crafting healthier, flavor-packed West Coast pies.

Wonder Women: Beyonce says girls ‘run the world,’ so it’s high time that pizzerias learned how to market to them

Seven female millennials talk about what they’re looking for in a restaurant experience—and what they hate.

Shake it up! Raise a glass to warm weather with these delicious and refreshing summer cocktail recipes

‘Tis the season for signature drinks—the more colorful and fruity, the better!

Set yourself apart with unique pizza cheese blends that offer new flavor experiences for your guests.

Mozzarella may be the king of pizza cheese, but it’s just one of many delicious possibilities.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags