The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced the re-launch of the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest following a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 situation. This is the CMAB’s second annual search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, which will award prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open to professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.
“Pizza has been a bright spot during this uncertain time as families shelter in place and foodservice operators struggle to adapt to a changing business landscape. We are pleased to re-launch the Real California Pizza Contest to recognize our culinary heroes who are continuing to feed us during this crisis and allow them to express their creativity with one of the world’s most popular foods,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB.
“The COVID-19 situation has affected everyone in the food business – from pizza and restaurant operators to cheese and dairy processors and dairy farm families,” he continued. “We hope bringing the contest back will help raise awareness of our state’s delicious cheese and dairy products while celebrating the innovation of chefs and pizzaiolos across the US and Mexico. We also hope the prize money will help winning chefs recover a bit financially.”
From May 22 through July 17, participants can enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward. Cal-Mex refers to recipes fusing flavors from California and Mexican cuisines, featuring Hispanic-style cheeses. The REAL California will incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheese and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes will emphasize the delicious flavor combinations of fruits, veggies and Real California Cheese.
The Real California Pizza Contest celebrates the innovative thinking that culinary professionals bring to their craft. This year’s contest categories have evolved to capture chefs’ creativity surrounding the latest food trends – plant-forward ingredients and Cal-Mex flavors. The contest has also broadened its geographic reach, inviting the champion of the most recent CMAB-sponsored Campeonato Mexicano de la Pizza to compete in the final round.
Chefs wishing to submit a recipe can review the requirements and complete the entry at http://realcaliforniamilk.com/foodservice. In addition to the recipe, contestants are asked to submit a short essay or video describing their personal and professional inspiration to create each pizza entry. Entry submissions close on July 17, 2020.
Twelve finalists will be selected by a professional panel of judges to compete in a bake-off on September 23 and 24 at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif. All finalists will win a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000 each, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award. A fan favorite award of $500 will be announced during the entry period.
Interested chefs and culinary students can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with milk from California’s more than 1,200 family dairy farms. For a list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and to enter online, visit http://realcaliforniamilk.com/foodservice.