Galbani Pizza Cup Champion Crowned Amidst Chaos of Hurricane Nicole

High winds and sideways rain could not keep pizza makers and spinners from across the continental US and beyond from attending the 2022 Galbani Professionale Pizza Cup & Acrobatic Trials (GPPC), Nov. 9-10 at the Orange County Convention Center. Galbani Professionale US, the US Pizza Team and the Pizza Tomorrow Summit hosted this exhilarating event all in search of the United States’ next pizza ambassador to the world, and the search was fruitful.

Covering categories from Non-Traditional Pizza, Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker to the ever-mesmerizing Freestyle Acrobatics, the field of over 30 competitors was whittled down to a handful of winners, with a final champion from both Non-Traditional and Freestyle earning a trip to compete at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy, April 18-20, 2023.

Jose Flores of Crust Lovers Pizza shows off his winning Kebab Pizza featuring Galbani 50/50 Mozz/Provolone Blend

Day one showcased the largest field of competitors with Non-Traditional pizza. Entries ranged from NY to Detroit and even Neapolitan styles. 2 groups of competitors competed in the first round for the opportunity to proceed to the finals for a one-on-one pizza cook-off. Craig Allenbaugh of Sauced Pizza & Catering in Fair View Park, OH and Jose Flores of Crust Lovers Pizza in Sanford, FL. Top honors in the final round cook-off went to Jose Flores with his Kebab Pizza. Featuring a 4-day fermented dough started with a poolish of All Trumps, The Kebab showcased a base of home-made sauce with Italian parsley and cilantro and Galbani Premium Whole Milk Mozzarella/Provolone 50/50 Blend. Flores wowed the judges taste buds with perfectly seasoned ground lamb, tomatoes, onions, a homemade tzatziki sauce and fresh parsley leaves.

“I went to the competition with no expectations of winning. My plan from day one was to present something different and to enjoy the experience since it was my first competition.” says Flores of his competition experience. “On the other hand, to be able to present the flavors I was looking for, it took me more than 3 months of perfecting the sauce and the seasoning on the meat. After all this, I realized that if you do not take the risk, you lose the chance and let everything fall into place.” 

Day two brought about the Acrobatics categories, featuring Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker and the ever visually vivacious Freestyle Acrobatics. McKenna Carney of The Nona Slice House in Safety Harbor, Florida, was the winner of the Freestyle Acrobatics Finals. Carney also won the Chicago U.S. Acrobatic Trials in August and, with her victory in Orlando, claimed the title of 2022 USPT Acrobatics Champion and the chance to compete in the World Pizza Championship next year in Parma, Italy. In the Orlando semi-finals, Carney was closely followed by Wilhelm Rodriguez of Papa’s Pizza in Puerto Rico and Kevin Knott and Travis Siebens, also of Nona’s, respectively. The title of Fastest Pie Maker went to competitive veteran David Whisker of B.C. Pizza in Boyne City, Mich., with title of Largest Dough Stretcher going to Wilhelm Rodriguez. 

Congratulations to ALL competitors of the 2022 Galbani Professionale Pizza Cup & Acrobatic Trials:

Top Champions:
Galbani Professionale Champion
Jose Flores, Crust Lovers Pizza, Sanford, Fla.
’22 Acrobatic Champion
McKenna Carney, The Nona Slice House, Safety Harbor, Fla.

Non-Traditional Pizza Semi-Finals:
Oven #1 Winners:
1. Jose Flores, Crust Lovers Pizza, Sanford, Fla.
2. Kevin Knott, The Nona Slice House, Safety Harbor, Fla.
3. Wilhelm Rodriguez, Papa’s Pizza, Puerto Rico

McKenna Carney of The Nona Slice House in Safety Harbor Florida cements her win with a stellar routine

Oven #2 Winners:
1. Craig Allenbaugh, Sauced Pizza & Catering, Fairview Park, Ohio
2. Joey Streeter, The Nona Slice House, Safety Harbor, Fla.
3. Michael Athanasopoulos, The Lamb & The Wolf, Yuba City, Calif.

Freestyle Acrobatic Semi-Finals:
1. Wilhelm Rodriguez, Papa’s Pizza, Puerto Rico
2. Kevin Knott, The Nona Slice House, Fla.
3. Travis Siebens, The Nona Slice House, Fla.

Largest Dough Stretch:

1. Wilhelm Rodriguez—25.45″
2. McKenna Carney—24.875″
3. Jerry Zampella, PJ’s Brick Oven Pizza, Spring Hill, Fla.—24.525”

Fastest Pie Maker:

1. David Whisker, B.C. Pizza, Boyne City, Mich.—46.37 seconds
2. Joey Streeter—63.09 seconds
3. Kevin Knott—63.32 seconds

Other Competitors included Alex Fotiadis, Corleone’s Famous New York Pizza & Gyros, Daytona Beach, Fla.; Anthony Brown, The Pie Factory, Largo, Fla.; Bradley Beam, Bronx House Pizza, Palm Coast, Fla., Bryan Kid Collazzo, Episodio 1: Pizzeria Libre, Cabo Rojo, PR; Cesare Di Iorio, Napule Italian Restaurant, Sarasota, Fla.; Daniel Saccone & Stephany Nagy, Saccone’s Pizza & Subs, Austin, Tex.; Darren Molnar, Pizza Parlor 609, Orlando, Fla.; Deserai Satullo, Sauced Pizza & Catering; Frank Piscitelli, Frank’s Pizza, Ft. Myers, Fla.; George Taylor, Taylors’ Pizza House, Endwell, NY; Giovanni Labbate, Tievoli Pizza Bar, Palatine, Ill.; Ivan Venesia, Artisano Pizza & Gelato, Wilmington, NC.; Kenny Kingswell, Strega Nona’s Oven, Gainesville, Fla.; Rico Lunardi, Slice on Broadway, Pittsburgh, Penn.; Robert Bair, SoDough Square Pizza, Orlando, Fla.;  Vitangelo Recchia, Bella Napoli Pizzeria & Restaurant, Port Charlotte, Fla.


Brian Hernandez

Brian Hernandez