PMQ Pizza Magazine
PMQ Pizza Magazine

U.S. Pizza Team Gains New Members in Culinary and Acrobatics for the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy

Several first-time USPT competitors gain a spot on the team and an all-expense-paid trip to Italy.

Oxford, MS, October 17, 2013 --( The U.S. Pizza Team held its annual American Pizza Championship and Fall Trials last week at the International Baking Industry Expo in Las Vegas. This year’s competition brought many first-time competitors and new faces to the team. Pizzaiolos competed in several categories, including Gluten-Free, Best Pie, Freestyle Acrobatics, Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker, and Fastest Box Folder.

The Midwest represented itself well in the American Pizza Championship with a sweep of the Gluten-Free category by the great state of Ohio. Heather Zook of Sinfully Gluten Free in Centerville, Ohio, took first place with her Three Meat Pizza, made with a White Rice and Millet blend crust and topped with a mix of mozzarella and provolone cheese, pepperoni, sausage, crumbled bacon and caramelized onion, lightly sprinkled with basil and oregano. Heather won a spot on the U.S. Pizza Team and a trip to compete in Italy at the World Pizza Championships. Second place went to Mike Amheiser of Pizza Dock in Fredericktown, Ohio, for his “Mike’s Favorite Pie,” featuring pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, bacon and hard salami, topped with Romano cheese, fresh basil and garlic. Jason Samosky of Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria in Valley City, Ohio, placed third with his “Spinachi” pizza.

The competition was fierce in the Best Pie category with a large number of West Coast competitors this year, but in the end, Ohio once again took the gold. Jason Samosky of Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria won first place with his “Spinachi” pizza consisting of garlic butter, fresh spinach, sausage, feta, dried cranberry, sunflower seeds and Asiago cheese. Rounding out the top three are Leah Scruto of Pizza My Heart in Los Gatos, California, in Second place for her “Big Sur” pizza, featuring a blend of herbs and spices in the crust, San Marzano tomato sauce and topped with sautéed portabella mushrooms, uncured pepperoni, roasted garlic, Italian sausage and green onions, and Michael Stevens of Palo Mesa Pizza in Arroyo Grande, California, taking third place with his “Michaela Pizza” (pepperoni, garlic, red onion, pineapple, jalapeño, bacon and cilantro).

The Fall Trials, meanwhile, challenged pizza athletes with a series of skill- and speed-based competitions. Dave Sommers of Mad Mushroom in West Lafayette, Indiana, swept the first day of acrobatic competitions, successfully defending his title in the Fastest Pizza Maker and Fastest Box Folder categories. He also added a gold medal in Largest Dough Stretch. The next day featured the Freestyle Acrobatics category. Each competitor performed a dough-spinning routine set to heart-pounding music. Taking first place was Bradley Johnson of Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Bradley earned the grand prize of a trip to Italy to compete in the World Championship of Pizza with his routine set to the funk classic “Play That Funky Music.” He is looking to better his 8th place finish in the World competition from 2013. Second place went to Patt Miller of A Slice of New York in Columbus, Ohio. Dave Sommers grabbed the third place spot to even out his medals for all the acrobatics competitions.

The competitions were sponsored with ovens by Picard Ovens and WP Bakery Group. Flour was also supplied by Bay State Milling, Primo Mulino and PFM Flour. Pizza boxes were provided by Rock Tenn.

The U.S. Pizza Team consists of expert pizza makers and dough-spinning acrobatic performers from pizza restaurants across the United States. The squad won the Team Acrobatics World Championship in Salsomaggiore, Italy, in 2011.

PMQ Pizza Magazine, the leading national trade publication for the pizza restaurant industry, created the U.S. Pizza Team in 2000. For more information on registering for the competition or for details about the U.S. Pizza Team, visit or contact Event Coordinator Brian Hernandez at or 662-234-5481, ext. 129.
PMQ Pizza Magazine
Melanie Addington