• Jamie Culliton won first place in the Freestyle Acrobatics competition and fourth place in the Pan division for his Detroit Style Pistach-I-Dew pizza.
  • Giovanni Labbate of Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza claimed first place for the Mid-America region in the Traditional division.

Related: Learn more about how to join the U.S. Pizza Team!

The world of live pizza competitions opened back up during the International Pizza Challenge (IPC) and World Pizza Games (WPG) at the 2021 Pizza Expo in Las Vegas last week. Members of the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) stood at the ready with pizza dough in hand to fight for the title of best pizza in the world and best dough-spinning acrobat.

USPT members from across the country converged on the Las Vegas Convention Center to compete in categories ranging from Traditional and Non-Traditional Pizza in the culinary-focused IPC to Fastest Pie Maker, Largest Dough Stretch and Freestyle Acrobatics in the acrobatics-focused WPG.

Leading the team in honors was USPT Athletic Coach Jamie Culliton of The Nona Slice House in Safety Harbor, Fla. Jamie reclaimed the title of world champion by taking gold in Freestyle Acrobatics, Masters Division, in the WPG. On the culinary side, Culliton also took home 4th place honors overall in the IPC’s Pan division with his Detroit Style Pistach-I-Dew pizza featuring a Wisconsin brick cheddar crust, toasted pistachios and ricotta-stuffed peppadews finished with fresh arugula and local hot honey.

“I’m so proud to be able to bring my team to compete at the IPC,” Culliton said. “I’m especially proud everyone placed so well and got to experience the pizza industry the way I have for 20 years. It’s the icing on the cake to be able to bring home the gold with my whole staff watching.”

Also in the IPC culinary competition, Giovanni Labbate of Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza in the Chicagoland area took 1st place for the Mid-America Region in the Traditional Division with his Pepperoni Pie showcasing a mix of mozzarellas, crushed tomatoes and savory cup-and-char pepperoni.

Lars Smith of State of Mind in Los Altos, California, won 3rd place in Southwest Region, Non-Traditional, and 5th overall in Non-Traditional.

Other USPT members that placed in the culinary competition were:

  • Daniel Saccone, Saccone’s Pizza & Subs, Leander, Texas.: 2nd in Southwest Region, Traditional, and 4thoverall, Traditional
  • Ali Haider, 786 Degrees, Sun Valley, California: 2nd in Southwest Region, Non-Traditional, and 4th overall, Non-Traditional
  • Lars Smith, State of Mind, Los Altos, California: 3rd in Southwest Region, Non-Traditional, and 5th overall, Non-Traditional
  • Sean Dempsey, Dempsey’s Brewery Pub & Restaurant, Watertown, South Dakota: 3rd in Northwest Region, Non-Traditional
  • Massimo Mannino, Nino’s Cucina Italiana, Greenville, North Carolina: 3rd in International Italian Sandwich Championship
  • Michel Wolf, The Lamb & The Wolf, Rocklin, California: 4th in Southwest Region, Non-Traditional, and 6th overall, Non-Traditional.

The USPT competes all year-round in various culinary and acrobatic trials across the country and in international competitions. PMQ Pizza Magazine, the business trade publication for the pizza restaurant industry, created the U.S. Pizza Team in 2000. The USPT is sponsored by Galbani, Margherita/Smithfield Culinary, Grain Craft, Real California Milk, Gordon Food Service, LaNova, MFG Tray, Burkett Restaurant Equipment and Supplies, Lillsun, Univex, Presto Foods and Throw Dough.

For more information about award-winning USPT pizzas or the U.S. Pizza Team, contact Brian Hernandez at 662-234-5481 ext. 129 or brian@pmq.com or visit http://uspizzateam.com/.

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