Hi, Dave Conti from Red Planet Pizza and Barbeque Competition Team.
After 10 years of competing in Barbeque & Grilling Competitions this past year I decided to start competing in Pizza Competitions. I attended my first Competition in Atlantic City, NJ this past November. I decided to compete with my Barbeque Pizza.
In the past I used pulled pork, but for this comp I went with BabyBack Rib Meat. Knowing I would be going up against highly qualified competitors my goal was not to come in last place! lol – Which I didn’t (but not too far away!) The endeavor was truly a learning experience, not only in the actual competing part but just seeing the quality and expertise of the other competitors!
So on my bucket list I always wanted to attend The International Pizza Expo, I thought why just attend when I could compete as well. Again knowing the competitors will be among the best pizzaolas in the country at first I was a little nervous. Super Bowl Sunday came and I decided to practice with our guests that were over for the game. I decided to use the kitchen oven instead of my BlackStone Outside propane pizza oven, well they were the 10 worst pizzas I have ever made, and my confidence level was pretty low after that and started thinking should I drop out of the Vegas competition??
Well not being a quitter right after work on Monday I came home and started making dough so by Wednesday I would be ready to start practicing again. With some ups and downs thru February by the beginning of March I was starting to feel pretty good and was narrowing in on the pizza I would do in Vegas. About a week before the comp I started having some doubts again and couldn’t sleep, it was 2am and I decided to go downstairs and put the TV on – changing channels I came across one of those money making infomercials, as I paused for a second he was talking about confidence. What caught my attention was when he said “focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses” Well that one statement really changed my outlook, I stopped thinking about not having the best technique and concentrated on what I learned from competing in Barbeque and that was TASTE. Knowing my wife and I could come up with something that taste great and keep it simple to put together with in the 2 pizzas in a half-hour, I felt it raised our chances considerably for not coming in last place! lol
My last practice my wife suggested we try a Lobster and Shrimp Fra Diavolo style pizza, and after taking one bite we knew this was the pie going to Vegas!
I have been using a Blackstone Propane Pizza Oven but I am looking forward to my new Professional Series Wood Fired Pizza Oven from ilFornino. I was very impressed after much research and when I went down to the ilFornino showroom and saw the Stainless Steel Wood Fired Pizza Oven I was sold!
We arrived in Vegas early Monday morning and quickly checked into our condo style room with a kitchen and started making dough for the Wednesday competition. Tuesday my wife and I made the Fra Diavolo sauce – Wednesday morning we checked the sauce and it had reduced down so much that there wasn’t enough for 2 pies! At 6 am we started opening tomatoes, chopping garlic and added it to the deep dark concentrated sauce we had. So the new mixture was a nice bright Red color which made the sauce look great! (took a negative and made it into a positive