A judge scrutinizes an entry in last year's Real California Pizza Contest.

California Milk Advisory Board

CMAB Launches 2021 Real California Pizza Contest

The contest, open to professional chefs and culinary students, awards prizes totaling $30,000 for innovative uses of California cow's milk cheese.

  • The California Milk Advisory Board is accepting submissions for the Real California Pizza Contest through September 9.
  • The winners in three categories will be awarded $5,000, with an additional grand prize of $10,000 for the best overall recipe.

Related: Chef Ricky Webster wins $15,000 top prize in 2020 Real California Pizza Contest

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is gearing up for its 2021 Real California Pizza Contest, the board’s third search for the best pizza recipes using California cheese.

The contest awards prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheeses from California. It’s open to professional chefs and culinary students across the U.S.

Through September 9, participants can enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Cal-Mex refers to recipes fusing flavors from California and Mexican cuisines with Hispanic-style cheeses. The REAL California category should incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes should emphasize the combinations of vegetables, fruits and California cheese.

Winners of separate Real California Pizza contests in China, South Korea and Mexico will be invited to compete in a semi-final cook-off (in the same categories described above) for a chance to win in the final U.S. cook-off.

“As the largest producer of mozzarella and the second-largest cheese-producing state, pizza is an important foodservice category for California dairy,” Bob Carroll, the CMAB’s vice president of business development, said. “We find tremendous inspiration in the creativity [that] culinary professionals bring to their pizza creations and look forward to new ideas from our U.S. chefs and those beyond our borders.

To enter the contest, chefs can review the requirements and complete an entry form here.

The deadline for contest submissions is September 9, 2021.

Contestants will also be asked to submit a short essay or video describing their personal and professional inspiration for their pizza creation.

Twelve U.S. finalists will be selected by a panel of professional judges to compete in a bake-off on October 27 at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, California. The international contingent of finalists will compete on October 26, with the winner joining the final bake-off on October 27.

All finalists will receive a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each.

Check out all the winners of the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest here.