Culinary and Acrobatics

Published on May 8th, 2019 | by Brian Hernandez

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USPT Wins Gold at the 2019 World Pizza Championships!

U.S. Pizza Team member Scott Volpe takes First Place in Freestyle Acrobatics

The United States Pizza Team (USPT) returned to the “Food Valley” of Italy, Parma, to compete in the 28th Edition of the World Pizza Championships. With a number of first-time competitors on the world stage and seasoned USPT veterans, the hopes were high to bring back some precious metals. And indeed they did.

Scott Volpe, Fiamme Pizzeria Napoletana, Tucson, AZ.

U.S. Pizza Team member Scott Volpe of Fiamme Pizzeria in Tucson, Ariz. stunned the crowd with his seamless blend of hip-hop break-dancing and flawless dough spinning. Set to custom edited music by fellow member Lenny Rago of Panino’s Pizza in Chicago Ill., Scott was able to spin, dance and handstand his way through a 3 minute routine with numerous tempo and music changes, earning first place in Freestyle Acrobatics at the 28th Edition of the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy.

When asked, Volpe recounts his journey, “I feel accomplished. A lot of years of hard work in pizza spinning, working my way up the ranks. It’s actually an honor to be recognized as the number one guy out of all these great competitors from all these different countries.” When asked if he thought it was his best performance ever, Scott replied, “Probably yes, but you always have to get better. It was the best I could do today, but tomorrow it’s back to the drawing board.”

Lenny Rago, Panino’s Pizza, Evanston, CA.

The culinary side of the USPT took some accolades as well in several events. Achieving the second highest score for the United States in the whole event was Lenny Rago of Panino’s Pizza in Evanston, Ill., coming in one-point shy of the highest in the USA. Lenny also took the highest American score in Gluten Free. Lars Smith of State of Mind Public House & Pizzeria in Los Altos, Claif. grabbed the highest score for the USA in the Classico category, as well as in the Pizza for Two event with his Partner Leah Scurto from PizzaLeah in Healdsburg, Calif. Coming out on top in the Peel category for the USPT and the USA was Gino Rago of Panino’s Pizza in Park Ridge, Ill., with his partner Bruno Brunetti taking 2nd highest for the USA in the Pan division. Also gracing the stage were USPT members Ali Haider of 786° in Sun Valley Calif. and Michael “The Wolf’ Athanasopoulos of the Lamb & The Wolf in Rockville, Calif. taking highest scores for their countries of origin, India and Greece respectively.

Lars Smith, State of Mind Public House & Pizzeria, Los Altos, CA.

Newcomer to the USPT Lars Smith of State of Mind in Los Altos, Calif. says “It was a wonderful event. I can’t believe how accepting all the competitors and judges were of our group. I honestly can’t wait to come back, I learned so much. I can’t wait to make pizzas next year from what I learned.”

Ali Haider, 786°, Sun Valley, CA.

With 19 competitors in 56 categories between them, the brigade of USPT members was one of the largest teams to compete in the international event. Additional members that competed in this year’s championships included: Derrick Tung, Paulie Gee’s Logan Square, Chicago, Ill.; Leonard Giordano, Mona Lisa Pizza, Staten Island, N.Y.; Michael LaMarca, Master Pizza, Cleveland, Ohio; Jason Samosky, Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria, Valley City, Ohio; Dave Sommers, Mad Mushroom, West Lafayette, Ind.; Gianni Gallucci, Forno Rosso, Chicago, Ill.; Constantino and Peter Anezinos, Zorba’s Pizza, Millbrae, Calif.; David Conti, Red Planet Pizza & BBQ, Ansonia, Conn.; Michael Stevens, Palo Mesa Pizza, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; RC Gallegos, RC’s NYC Pizza & Pasta, Kingwood, Texas. 

For more information about this event or the U.S. Pizza Team, contact Brian Hernandez at 662-234-5481 x 129, brian@pmq.com, or visit http://uspizzateam.com/.

Michael Athanasopoulos, The Lamb & The Wolf, Rocklin, CA.

Leah Scurto, PizzaLeah, Healdsburg, CA.

Bruno Brunetti, Panino’s Pizza, Chicago, IL.

Gino Rago, Panino’s Pizza, Park Ridge, IL.

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Brian Hernandez



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