U.S. Pizza Team Council
Dave Sommers is the owner of 2 Mad Mushrooms in Lafayaette and W. Lafayette, In. He competes in all the acrobatic categories, holds the records for fastest pie maker and fastest boxfolder. He also competes on the culinary side.
Jamie competes in both Acrobatics and culinary and won second place in Freestyle Acrobatics at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy, 2014 and 2015 and the gold medal in 2016. Jamie was also part of the gold medal winning team acrobatic routine from the Salsomaggiore World Pizza Championships in 2011, and marched with the team in the Macy’s Day Parade in 2010. Jamie has alsow won numerous culinary awards, including 1st place at the 2011 Orlando USPT Trials with his Margherita Pie!
I have a passion for all styles of pizza. I am proud to adhere to the standards of the old school pizzerias and the art and craft of the great pizzaiolos who started the legacy one hundred years ago.
Michael P. LaMarca is the owner of the Master Pizza franchise in Cleveland, Ohio. Michael has competed as part of the United States Pizza Team since 2013 and has been voted “Best Pizza in Cleveland” several times and won 4 national competitions for Best “Pizza in America”.
I am Jason Samosky, proud owner of Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria in Valley City, OH. Since 2003, Pizza has been my passion. In 2005 I earned my first US pizza title, and to date have earned 5 US Pizza Championships. We are family owned and operated since 1910, “Four Generations Strong & Still Going”
Brad Corbin, Owner of Sloopy’s Sports Cafe, Lakeside, OH & Port Clinton OH: I’ve been in culinary for 18 years, 12 in the pizza industry. USPT member since 2012. Awards: 2012 American Pizza Championship, 2012 NAPICS “Best in the Midwest” Gourmet & Traditional, 2013 NAPICS “Best in the Midwest” Gourmet. Favorite thing to do in my spare time: hunt, fish, and travel. Favorite food other than pizza: Sushi
Started in the pizza business at age 14, Love Pizza, competing and creating new pies. When I am not making pizza, I love music, managing bands, doing PR, TV and radio promotion for popular local band’s to help relieve the stress of running a pizza place.
Brian came on board PMQ Pizza Magazine in October of 2011 as the Director of the USPT and has taken the team to Italy 8 times. In those 8 years, he has filled the roster of this team with quality pizzaiolos, acrobats, and lifelong friends. He loves pizza, playing guitar and singing, relaxing by a fire with a nice cigar and glass of whiskey, and all of his team members (except LaMarca).
Brian has collaborated with old and new members to create a council of the U.S. Pizza Team so the team itself has a hand in deciding the direction it will go for the betterment of the team , the team members and the industry. The team is growing steadily year after year by recruiting quality members, as well as a membership requests through uspizzateam.com. All applicants are vetted through the team council before any are allowed membership.
Brian has competed 3 times in Italy (’16-’18). Twice in Classico and once in Pizza for Two with former PMQ Media Producer and USPT Competing Member Daniel Lee Perea. In the 2018 Classico division, Brian won Best American Score for the category, coming in 48th out of 667 competitors.
Bradley has been on the team since 2009. He is a manager at Mellow Mushroom Downtown Chattanooga and competes in Acrobatics and Culinary. He won a trip to Italy in 2013 at IBIE in Las Vegas. He placed 7th in the world in freestyle acrobatics at the 2013 World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy.
Leonardo (Lenny) was born and raised in Castellamare Del Golfo, Sicily.
Lenny left Sicily in 1991at age of 21 and few years later he decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts. From Sicily he brought with him a passion for simple, yet flavorful foods to his role as an Executive Chef and Pizza Chef. Best described as an Innovative and fresh to his approach as his Sicilian/ Mediterranean style of cooking. By using the freshest ingredients, Lenny gets you as close to Original Italian dining experience as you can get.
In 2001 Lenny decided to open his first place called Mona Lisa Pizzeria & Ristorante, two years later he also opened an upscale Fine Dining, San Marco Ristorante Italiano.
In April 2012 Atlantic City NJ, Lenny won the first place in Pizza Competition of the Best Pizzeria in North East America and became Official Member of US Pizza Team PMQ.
Lenny already 3 years in USPT he lives the dream of one of the Best Pizza Chef in U.S.A and the world and also to be part of the PMQ Family.
Leah lives in San Francisco Ca. She has been working with Pizza My Heart in the Bay Area for 18 years. When she is not slinging pies she enjoys skiing and sitting on the beach with a fruity cocktail with an umbrella in it.
When asked to provide this bio she merely stated, “I make pizza, it’s my job”.
Heather is the owner of Sinfully Gluten Free in Dayton, Oh., a dedicated gluten free pizzeria and bakery.Heather joined the USPT in 2013 after winning her first gluten-free competition with the team at IBIE in Las Vegas. She then joined the team on a trip to Italy to compete in the World Pizza championships in Parma, Italy. Heather has been an active member of the team ever since.
Ali Haider & wife Sayyeda Ali, proud owners of 786 Degrees Wood Fired Pizza Co. Sun Valley CA began their dream journey back in 2013. Being a huge foodie at heart Ali found his creativity outlet ,now by using different flavors of foods from around the world and presenting them in the form of world class Neapolitan wood fired pizzas His innate passion to find the best local street food led him find the right balance of local flavors with gourmet ingredients. In the will to learn from the best, this insatiable craving drove him back to the motherland of pizzas, Naples, Italy where he studied under the Master Pizzaiolos, the Artisanal craft of classic Italian cooking .
My name is Rick Wheeler and I operate out of Mad Mushroom Pizza in Lafayette Indiana. Been doing pizza for 10 years now. I love to complete in almost all categories of pizza. Favorite pizza is whatever I make!
Owner/operator of Fiamme Pizza Napoletana in Tucson Arizona. Been in business for 1 year and a pizzaiolo or pizza maker for 4 years. Two strongest categories are Neapolitan pizza and pizza acrobatics.
Owner of Palo Mesa Pizza in Arroyo Grande, CA., Michael joined the team in 2013 after winning 3rd place at the U.S. Pizza Team Culinary Trials at IBIE in Las Vegas. Michael also joined the team in Parma, Italy in 2014 to compete as a United States Pizza Ambassador at the World Pizza Championships, scoring the highest score for the team in Classico.
Born in Monroe, Michigan, Tore was lucky to be exposed to foods of the world at a very young age. Born to immigrant parents with a dream to open a restaurant in the United States. My father Damiano, handled the front of the house. My mother Santina, handled the kitchen. I knew quickly that food was in my future. Restaurants were opened in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. In 1986 the family decided to make the move to the west coast. Restaurants were opened in Orange and San Diego counties. Tore’s big break happened when he opened up a box of cracker jacks and found a culinary degree. That was a sure tell sign, plus the clusters of popcorn and peanuts are always a bonus. Pizza Festiva is the place we ought to beso we loaded up the truck and competed in Las Vegas. Divisional winner in 1995 with a BBQ Chicken Pizza, 1996 with a breakfast pizza, and 2008 with the Mardi Gras Pizza. In 2010 Tore decided that there was more to cooking than Italian cuisine and pizza. A food truck that featured freshly smoked meats. Tore found a new love, pork, brisket, chicken, and the other main meat, bacon. Mastering the art of smoking was a fun activity that quickly turned into passion. There is always a way to deconstruct, twist, flip, and turn a basic traditional dish and make it a wild dripping off the walls culinary piece of art. In 2012 Tore decided to return back to his roots and rejoin the family business. With new locations on the horizon, Tore took the reins at the 2 harbor locations. Tore has a nice collection of awards that can often be purchased on eBay. They include …but it tastes like chicken 2011, Michelin stars sold individually, best mullet trophy 1987, blank James Beard awards, available in 5 different languages, and most 4 hour shifts worked in 8 hours consecutively. “You can take the pit master out of the pit, but you can’t take the pit out of the pit master.” Tore created the Maple and Bourbon porchetta. It is an infusion of the classic Italian porchetta infused with the flavors of the good ol’ south. The flavors just pop, especially since the twist is an Asian style bbq sauce. A multi-cultural creation that just screams “EAT ME!” Tore can often be seen working after hours, perfecting new and exciting dishes. Current experiments include aspartame crusted giblets, lard fat deep fried kale chips, sugar coated excuses, and pate filled cupcakes, just to name a few. Tore has been contacted by the peeps at Guinness world book of records for possibly creating the world’s smallest amuse-bouche. Tore is waiting for a publishing house to pick up his book, “She will love you, just give her a food-gasm.” Tore enjoys spending time with his family, watching them cook and clean for him. Using the business expense account for eyebrow waxes and manicures. Hearing his name called out loud. Tore has issues with vegetarians and vegans, they are aliens and not from this world.
The next chapter combines the craft of making pizza and the skills of a pit master. Pizza expo Tore debuted his last creation, “The Big Easy”. Smoked provolone and mozzarella blend, ground duck, ground alligator, shrimp, and caramelized onions, and fried okra.
Future fan club members can contact me at email@example.com or 760-754-1881 or 760-533-0673
Dan Uccello has been a member of the USPT since 2017. Dan owns Flo’s Collection in grand rapids Michigan. Flo’s Collection is a restaurant group that owns Flo’s Pizzeria in Grand Rapids MI, Flo’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Bar in Belmont MI & Greenville MI, and Catering Concepts in Holland MI. Dan has been in the pizza business since the age of 12. Dan’s Company Has Competed in multiple pizza competitions, they currently hold the award for the “Best Pizza in Michigan”, “Best Pizza in Grand Rapids” and “Best Pizza in the Midwest”, and “Best Pizza in America”
David Conti, owner of Red Planet Pizza & BBQ. After 10 years of doing Kansas City Barbeque Society & New England Barbeque Society Grilling Competitions along with my Barbeque catering, I decided this past year to start doing onsite Pizza catering parties. I entered my first pizza competition at the 2017 Caputo Cup in Atlantic City, I enjoyed it so much that I followed it up by competing in Las Vegas at the International Pizza Expo which I placed 3rd in the North East. After watching the World Championships from Parma, Italy this past April I made it a Goal that I wanted to compete at it one day! I then entered the USPT West Coast competition with a Grand Prize of going to Italy to compete. My dream then became a reality by winning the West Coast Competition! Then it was back to Atlantic City for the Caputo Cup which I placed 2nd in the Non-traditional division. I am very honored to be part of the USPT and look forward to competing and expanding my Onsite Pizza Catering business in the next year.
Gianni Gallucci of Forno Rosso and Zero Ottantuno in Chicago, Ill. seized a trip from the 2018 Midwest U.S. Pizza Cup and a spot on the U.S. Pizza Team with his traditional Pizza Napoletana STG in the wood-fired oven featuring buffalo ricotta with black truffles, prosciutto di Parma, red piennolo del Vesuvio, and summer black truffle from Umbria.
Derrick Tung, owner and operator of Paulie Gee’s Logan Square, started out by learning how to make pizza at home through YouTube tutorials and PizzaMakingForum.com discussions. After a few years of working at different pizzerias to learn restaurant operations and pizza techniques, and many road trips to visit some of the top 100 pizzerias in the US (and some international trips as well), Derrick fell in love with woodfired pizza and Detroit style, both which he incorporated into his menu at the restaurant. As a firm believer in honoring tradition but evolving forward, he is constantly seeking new and interesting pizza experiences based on non-traditional ingredients.
Lars Smith is the chef and co-owner of state of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in Los Altos, California. He has been in the industry since 2002, but has had a love for food since he was a child, always cooking with his grandmothers. He always new that he would eventually open his own family run restaurant. In 2017, he won the international pizza challenge Non-Traditional division in Las Vegas and was featured on the Cooking channel’s “Food Wars”. In 2018, State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria officially opened it doors. That same year he won second place at the US Pizza team west coast trials pan division and first place at the US Pizza team Northeast pizza trails traditional competition.
Will Shaw has been in the pizza business for over 15 years and has competed in numerous competitions resulting in four first place, one second place and one fourth place standings. He joined the team in 2015 for their trip to the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy.
Alex joined the USPT in 2017. Alex is the General Manager/Pizzaiolo of Flo’s Pizzeria In grand rapids Michigan. Alex has competed on behalf of Flo’s in Novi Michigan taking first place for the “Best Pizza in Michigan”, in Las Vegas which he took 3rd place for the “Best Pizza in the Midwest”, and in Ohio which he placed 3rd for the “Best Pizza in the Midwest”. Alex has been in the pizza business since he was 17 years old.
My pizza journey started out at 17 when I took my first job at Punxy Pizza under the ownership of Scott Anthony. In 2012, I opened a food truck in Cleveland called Sauced Wood Fired Pizza. We had such great success that I decided to open our first brick and mortar in June of 2016 in Fairview Park. I also headed to San Francisco in 2016 to attend Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza. I opened another location inside Scene 75 Entertainment Center called Food Truck Alley in August of 2017. I took 3rd Place at the Mid America Restaurant Expo in January 2018 in the Pizza Pizzazz Competition.
With numerous awards and years of competing under his belt, Daniel “The Big Cheese” has dedicated his time and expertise to representing the Lone Star state in national and international competition alike. After several years of competing at USPT sanctioned competitions, his tenacity paid off and he was made an official Competing Member of the United States Pizza Team.
2005 Third Place Largest Dough Stretch, Alamo Pizza Festival
2005 Third Place Largest Dough Stretch, New York Pizza Show
2006 2nd Place Best Gourmet Pizza, Southwest Pizza & Italian Expo
2007 Third Place Largest Dough Stretch, World Pizza Games International Pizza Expo
2008 Third Place Largest Dough Stretch, World Pizza Games International Pizza Expo
2008 1st & 2nd Place Best Pizza, Best of the Southwest Pizza Competition
2008 2nd Place Best Pizza, The American Pizza Championship
2014 Winner Traditional Pizza Southwest Region, International Pizza Expo
2016 Winner Traditional Pizza Southwest Region, International Pizza Expo
2016 2nd Place Best Pizza, Pizza Pizzazz Mid America Restaurant Expo
2018 2nd Place Traditional Pizza, International Division, International Pizza Expo
2018 3rd Place Best Pizza, United States Pizza Cup
November 6, 2018 Made a Competing Member of the US Pizza Team
2019 Finalist Best Pizza Pizza Pizzazz Mid America Restaurant Expo
Brandon Davis is the Owner/Operator of Novella’s Pizza in New Hudson, Michigan. He has been in the restaurant business for 15 years and opened Novella’s Pizza over a year ago. He is very excited about becoming a member of the USPT because in Novella’s first year, they won the 2018 Michigan Pizza Challenge and placed 12th in Las Vegas for the 2019 International Pizza Challenge. For both of these competitions they used a pizza that is on their menu, Fig & Pig. Although Brandon wanted to win, after it sunk in for a few days, he realize 12th is great for his first year and can’t wait to return next year. Brandon learned so much for his first time that next year he will be more equipped to make a serious run at a championship. He has always been an athlete and loves competitions and competing. He is excited for the 2020 competition season and has already competed in 3 events for the 2019 season in anticipation.
My cooking career began when my husband, Bob, transplanted our family from Connecticut to Germantown, Tennessee in the summer of 1994. When we moved here, one of the first things I did was search for the best pizza in Germantown. Pizza was a BIG part of our weekly family dinner. Unable to find anything that resembled the awesome New Haven, CT style pizza, I began experimenting with recipes in the hope of developing the best New Haven style pizza possible. Since the only variable for pizza is water, I began importing my water from CT for my pizza. Voila…..I had success!!
Around this time I joined a neighborhood group called “New Neighbors of Germantown”. One day, one of my friends from that group told me she was headed to CT to visit family. I asked her to bring me back some CT water. She laughed and thought I was crazy, but she did bring me back the water. As a thank you I created an amazing pizza for her, which I delivered hot out of the oven. My friend was amazed at how great this pizza was, and asked me if I would teach the ladies in our organization how to make great tasting pizzas. That started “Cooking Adventures in Galena’s Cucina” cooking classes in my home. When my kitchen became too small for those interested in taking my cooking classes, I began teaching at a local cooking school, “Gift Horse”. Unfortunately, years later that school closed.
In August of 2002, I was hired by Viking Cooking School in Memphis as a Cooking Instructor, teaching cooking classes to the home cook. It didn’t take long before I became known as the “Pizza Queen” for my amazing pies. While teaching at Viking I applied for a cooking competition on Food Network’s show called “Ultimate Recipe Showdown”, hosted by Guy Fieri. My recipe: Crawfish & Andouille Sausage Pizza. I was fortunate enough to be one out of 10,000 home cooks chosen to participate on the show. Never did I think I would actually win! And I won big, $25,000 and $5,000 Food Network Products sold at Kohl’s. That was a life changing event.
Shortly thereafter I was approached by CBS’s affiliate WREG “Live at 9” to appear as a guest chef demonstrating my recipes. I continued to make guest appearances on “Live at 9” for over 9 years. While teaching cooking classes at Viking, I was offered a position with ACH Food Companies as a Research & Development Consulting Chef. While with ACH, I developed new products and recipes for the company showcasing ACH Food products, Spice Island, Mazola, Weber, Fleishmann’s Yeast, and Tones. With the assistance of my boss, we developed a cooking book utilizing ACH Food Products.
My pizza and dinner party donations have raised over $40,000 for local charities.
In 2018, I officially retired from the corporate business world and started my own in home pizza party business.
This past March I traveled to Las Vegas and competed at the International Pizza Expo. International Pizza Expo is the largest pizza show in the world with more than 1,300 booths and 500 exhibitors and is held annually at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The competition draws over 200 competitors from around the world. I placed 26th in my division of 60 competitors.
Since then I have become a member of the U.S. Pizza Team. The U.S. Pizza Team was founded in 2000 with the goal of bringing competition and excitement to the pizza industry. Since its formation, the U.S. Pizza Team has participated in an international event every year, most frequently at the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy. Ranging from culinary masters to dough tossing phenoms, the Pizza Team renews the passion of those in the industry year after year.
My recipes for my several of my pizza creations will be featured in upcoming issues of PMQ Pizza Magazine, as well as appearances on PMQ Pizza TV. PMQ Pizza Magazine is the world’s authority on pizza and the No. 1 business publication for the pizza restaurant industry. With 10 issues each year, PMQ reaches the mailboxes of 40,000+ pizza pros. PMQ also has a video production department, PizzaTV. PizzaTV brings you the latest pizza news, interviews, product spotlights and more. From business tips and strategies to pizzeria profiles.
Member of U.S. Pizza Team
Recipe developer for “Cooking for a Living”, ACH Cookbook utilizing ACH Food Products
Winner of Food Networks “Ultimate Recipe Showdown”
Winner of Pizza Therapy Worldwide Pizza Recipe Contest
Frequent guest chef on CBS affiliate morning show, WREG Channel 3
Raised over $40,000 for charity by donation of dinner parties
Creator of www.foodsinthefastlane.me cooking blog & www.gailspizzaparties.com
I have been in the pizza biz for about 25 years. My wife and I are owners of Taylors’ Neighborhood Pizza & Sandwich Shoppe in Endwell, NY.
I first competed in 2012. I have competed in fastest pizza maker, largest dough stretch and now compete in culinary.
Chris honed his skills in the extremely competitive restaurant scene of Nashville, TN. He received 3 consecutive Reader’s Choice Wards while serving as culinary director of Nashville’s premiere pizza destination.
Chris is currently the owner of Houdini Pie, a pop up boutique pizza experience, entering the festival and catering circuit in early 2017.
Consistently drawing from his experiences as a young chef, Chris creates non-traditional competition pies that have led him to international competitions in Parma, Italy and Shanghai with the United States Pizza Team since 2014.
Damian “Dutch” vanOostendorp
Grew up in Orange County NY. Relocated to MS in 1997. Former PGA of America Member golf instructor. Currently co-owner/pizzaiolo/bread baker at TriBecca Allie Cafe in Sardis MS. Finished 2nd in 2010 American Pizza Championship. Qualified for US Pizza Team by winning the SEC Pizza Championship in April of 2014.
Purchased in 2011. Giuseppe’s was the previous name of our pizza shop. We changed our name to Mifflin Pizza in 2015. The owner of Mifflin Pizza,Adam Tucker has been making pizza for 16 years in numerous places throughout Columbia County before purchasing his own pizza shop in Mifflinville from long time friend John Ivanina Sr. whom Adam worked for previously for nearly a decade. While getting a life lesson in pizza during his 16 yrs Adam also obtained a Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Luzerne Community College. Along with running his pizza shop Adam competes in Pizza competitions to see where his skills measure up with the rest of the Pizza World. In 2014 Adam placed third in fastest box folding and largest dough stretch in NAPICS competition in Ohio. When Adam isn’t in his pizza shop he is spending time with his wife and his 2 daughters and 1 son. He is very excited for the day they are all old enough to help him around the shop. We are a family owned pizza shop and we love our community and are proud of our work. We work hard and love what we do. We hope you love it too!
I am currently the head chef for Camp Lake Stephens and the Oxford School District. I have been in the pizza business for over 20 years. US pizza team member since 2010. I have tossed pizza for Michelle Obama and her girls. I have traveled to NYC, Las Vegas and Orlando with the Groupon U.S. Pizza Team. Pizza is my passion, my work of art! I can make pizza anywhere, in any climate! It’s a science and I’ve got it down!
Hey my name is Kyle , I’m from Valley City, Ohio, and work at Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria. My co-workers have always said I was fast at making boxes and finally talked me into competing in 2015 where I took First Place! Hopefully it’s the first of many competitions for me.
I’ve been in the pizza industry my whole life! I started with Mellow Mushroom in 1997 and opened my first store in 2002 and my second in 2011. Craft pizza is what I love! I’ve traveled with the team to Italy 3 times and look forward to competing again in China!
My name is Stan Miller. I am the owner of WORLD FAMOUS PIEZONS PIZZA & PASTA
in Fulton, Ms. and I have been in the pizza business since 1994. I love to cook and compete.
Look for some of my work on Instagram#piezonspizza , Facebook/pie zons , or Twitter@piezons
Tim lives in Santa Cruz Ca. He has been working with Pizza My Heart in the Bay Area for 26 years. When he is not working he enjoys surfing and hanging out with his Min Pin Danny.
Paola has been the translator for the U.S. Pizza Team for over 7 years. Leading the team through the chaos that is the World Pizza Championships, she is one of the most important people on the team. She likes Root Beer, Reese’s Peanut butter cups, Cracker Barrel and keeping silly Americans out of trouble.
My name is Drew French and pizza became a passion of mine when I traveled through Italy with my Italian high school sweet heart while on our honeymoon in 2006. I came back to Athens, GA and launched Your Pie, the first fast casual pizza brand. I was obsessed about having the best pizza, not only in Athens, but in the World. Today, I am passionate about improving the communities that we serve by changing the way people experience pizza.