The China challenge

When east meets west in the global kitchen, some marvelous recipes emerge, and nowhere was that more evident than at the 6th Annual Chinese Pizza Championship, held Nov. 16-18, 2011, at FHC China’s International Exhibition for Food, Drinks, Hospitality, Foodservice, Bakery and Retail Industries in Pudong, Shanghai.

PMQ China hosted the event in the PMQ Pavilion with the support of Heinz, Le 5 Stagioni, Hormel Foods International, Beijing Jikang Food Company, the California Milk Advisory Board, Shanghai Intop Packaging Company, Thunderbird Food Machinery and the Middleby Corporation.

The Chinese Pizza Championship spotlighted 13 contestants from Beijing, Shanghai, Zhoushan, Xiamen, Qingdao, Shenzhen and other cities. Three expert judges gave scores based on appearance, taste and marketability. The top three contestants and their recipes were: Gui Shehui of Shanghai Gimilid Pizza, 1st Place, Signature Chicken Pizza; Wu Jiakai of Qingdao JJ Pizza, 2nd Place, Supreme Cuttlefish Pizza; and Xu Wenlu of Shanghai Present Pizza, 3rd Place, Golden Autumn Pizza.

The PMQ Pavilion also hosted a giant pizza-making demonstration presented by Kro’s Nest Pizzerias, winner of the Best Pizza Cup in Beijing in 2011, and the California Milk Advisory Board. The huge 28” pizza, which featured California cheese, weighed seven kilograms. In addition, members of the Chinese Pizza Team presented dough-spinning exhibitions throughout the three-day event.

“Pizza is a relatively new industry in China, but it’s flourishing,” said Mark Handley, vice president of operations for the Kro’s Nest F&B Group in Beijing. “The big players are here—Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s and an unbelievable number of home-grown Chinese and Korean pizza places.”

Although Kro’s Nest adheres to “a strict American style,” Handley notes that Asian influences make for some interesting culinary twists on the classic pie. “The need to localize pizza and appeal to the tastes of the people here leads to ingredients that I personally would not choose to put on a pizza,” he said. “But the locals love it.”

Kro’s Nest general manager Jing Wang says the competition “helps pizzerias in China build a reputation for themselves,” but added that varying pizza-making styles—both American and Chinese—lead to complications in judging these contests. “For (American-based) shops like Pizza Hut, Mr. Pizza and the New York-style pizza shops, their major customers are Chinese while pizza shops like Kro’s Nest, The Tree and Anne’s target foreign customers,” Wang says. “So it can be hard to measure them by the same standards of pizza making. But all pizzas are made with dough and sauce and have a certain look after they’re cooked. The thickness of the dough must be uniform, the flavor of the sauce shouldn’t be too sweet or too sour, and the final product shouldn’t be loaded at the center, and the cheese and sauce shouldn’t be spread on the edges.”

Handley says the show was a big success that brought together pizza lovers from around the world. He especially enjoyed the pizza-making demo—and the crowd’s reaction. “The reception was amazing. As we took the stage to make our signature 28” pizza, the small crowd turned into a huge gathering of hungry bystanders, all looking to get a picture or a piece of this giant creation we affectionately call ‘the Monster.’ Having been a chef for 25-plus years, I’ve never felt so much appreciation for doing what I normally do—making great pizza and helping make people happy while watching a pizza being prepared and cooked.”

A Slice of the Far East

The 2011 Chinese Pizza Championship yielded a stunning variety of pizzas incorporating unusual ingredients such as cuttlefish and Korean chili sauce. Here are the top 3 recipes from this year’s event:

1st Place

Signature Chicken Pizza
Gui Shehui, Shanghai Gimilid Pizza (14”)

Signature chicken granules (150g)
Sliced boiled eggs, 6 slices
Green pepper
Red pepper
Dried blueberry (5g or 12 granules)
Spicy tomato pizza sauce (90g)
Mayonnaise (25g)
Tomato sauce (25g)
Mozzarella (250g)

Preheat the oven to 230°C. Stretch the dough to create a 14” crust. Place spicy tomato pizza sauce on the crust, sprinkle mozzarella evenly, then top it with green pepper, red pepper and onion. Place 6 slices of boiled egg in the middle. Sprinkle the chicken granules over it. Place the dried blueberry granules on the edge of the crust and brush the edge with oil. Place pie in oven and bake for about 5-6 minutes. Cut into 6 slices. Add mayonnaise and tomato sauce.

2nd Place

Wu Jiakai, Qingdao JJ Pizza
Supreme Cuttlefish Pizza (14”)

Blended cheese (350g)
Onion (50g)
Mushroom (50g)
Cuttlefish (500g)
Pineapple (200g)
Vegetables (to taste)
Korean Chili Sauce (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 250°C. Stuff the edge of the crust with pineapple. Place cheese, onion and mushrooms evenly around the crust. Add the cuttlefish and Korean Chili sauce. Place blended cheese on top. Bake for 5 ½ minutes. Garnish with vegetables.

3rd Place

Xu Wenlu, Shanghai Present Pizza
Golden Autumn Pizza

Fresh basil (20g)
Deep-fried chicken breast, diced (150g)
Orange (8 slices)
Pineapple, diced (16 dollops)
1 lemon
Mozzarella, diced (260g)
Signature basil lemon sauce (180g)
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 245°. Marinate chicken breast with egg, starch and pinch of salt for 30 minutes. Deep-fry to medium-done and set aside. Meanwhile, blend the fresh basil with a bit of olive oil in a processor. Stir with salad sauce and fresh lemon juice. Place the basil lemon sauce on the pizza crust and top evenly with mozzarella. Place pineapple dollops along the inner edge of the crust, then place the orange slices alongside the pineapple. Sprinkle the fried chicken evenly on top. Bake for 5 ½ minutes. Cut into slices.
Note: Each slice of pizza should have 2 dollops of pineapple and 1 orange slice.