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U.S. Pizza Team Takes High Rankings at the Spanish Pizza Championship

USPT's Gino Rago took 2nd place with a pizza featuring hemp seed flour.




Members of the U.S. Pizza Team made an excellent showing in the Spanish Pizza Championship earlier this month.

A member of the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) took second place in the Spanish Pizza Championship, held October 8 in Granada, Spain, while three other USPT members finished in the top 10.

Gino Rago, culinary coach for the USPT, took home 2nd place in Classica. Missy Green came back with 3rd place in Freestyle Acrobatics. Michael LaMarca, Jason Samosky and Dave Sommers placed 4th, 7th and 10th respectively in the Pizza Classica category.

Thirty-two competitors from Spain, Italy and other countries participated in the 4th annual “Pizza por Pasión” competition organized by Antonia Ricciardi, resident of the Università di Pizza Italiana nel Mondo. Ricciardi’s pizza association trains pizza professionals to open pizzerias and to compete in national and international pizza competitions. The competition took place within the regional trade show, Sabores de Nuestra Tierra, open to both consumers and professionals.

“This was our first step in coming to Spain, besides going to Italy, China, Sweden and many places all over America,” Rago says. “There was an invitation, and we jumped on it with the help of PMQ, Galbani, Molini Spigadoro, Ferrarelle water, and our other sponsors.”

Rago’s silver victory was accomplished with his Pizza Terrenal. The base was made using part hemp seed flour from Molini Spigadoro. For toppings, Rago used Galbani American dry-aged mozzarella, homemade pork fennel sausage, local guanciale, yellow cherry tomatoes, and homemade arugula pesto and finished it off with pink Himalayan sea salt.

Michael LaMarca, who was points away from taking 3rd place, made his Sunday Meatball Pizza, reminiscent of big Sunday meals with his extended family. Jason Samosky placed 7th with his Smoked Caprese Pizza, which he finished off with beautiful purple edible flowers and a pomegranate reduction. Dave Sommers (pictured below) came in 10th with the La Balboa topped with homemade sausage, arugula and honey from his family’s farm.

In 2019, Ricciardi plans to expand the competition to include more culinary categories beyond Classica. USPT members say they look forward to competing again next year. “I can’t wait to come back,” says Samosky. “The welcome we received from the Spanish was unbelievable."

The U.S. Pizza Team is sponsored nationally by Galbani Professionale, Molini Spigadoro, Grain Craft, Ferrarelle, MFG Tray, Real California Milk, Gordon Food Service, LaNova, Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Burkett Restaurant Equipment and Supplies, Bag Solutions, Fontanini Meats, Lillsun, Univex, Presto Foods, Pivetti, and Lloyd Pans.

PMQ Pizza Magazine, the business trade publication for the pizza restaurant industry, created the USPT in 2000. Since its formation, the team has participated in an international event every year, most frequently at the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy. Ranging from culinary masters to dough-tossing phenoms, the USPT renews the passion of those in the industry year after year.

For more information about this event or the U.S. Pizza Team, contact Missy Green at +31 615 27 23 57 or missy@pmq.com, or visit uspizzateam.com.

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