Real California Pizza Contest Goes International This Year

The 2022 contest, sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board, has been expanded to include pizza chefs from Mexico.

  • The 2022 Real California Pizza Contest final bake-off will include innovative recipes from winners of separate contests held in Mexico.
  • Chefs must submit their recipes by April 24, with prizes totaling $30,000 at stake for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheese from California.

Related: Try out Anthony Spina’s recipe for the Spicy Italian Grandma pizza

This year’s Real California Pizza Contest, sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), will extend south of the border to include competitors from Mexico, the CMAB announced recently.

According to a press release, the 2022 contest will include innovative ideas from winners of separate Real California Pizza Contests in Mexico, who will compete in the final bake-off event at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, California.

“With more than 78,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and another 100,000-plus restaurants serving some type of pizza or flatbread, pizza is an important category for California cheese and dairy and a perfect platform for showcasing innovation with California’s award-winning cheeses,” said Mike Gallagher, business and market development consultant for the CMAB. “Expanding the contest to include international pizza chefs and operators reflects the growth of the international market for pizza. And Mexico is just one example of countries where California cheeses and dairy products are available to culinary professionals.”

The pizza recipe competition is open for entries by professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S. Participants can enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL Californian and Plant-Forward. Chefs must submit their recipes by April 24, with prizes totaling $30,000 at stake for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheese from California.

Cal-Mex recipes incorporate toppings that fuse flavors from California and Mexican cuisines and feature Hispanic-style cheeses from California. The REAL Californian will incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes will emphasize the delicious flavor combinations of fruits, veggies and Real California cheeses.

In addition to the recipe, contestants are required to submit a short essay describing their personal and professional inspiration for their pizza creation.

A professional panel of judges will select twelve U.S. finalists to compete alongside their colleagues from Mexico in the bake-off on June 22, 2022. All finalists will win a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each. The winners in each category will receive $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.