USPT Takes Spain by Storm with Hemp Seed Crust

U.S. Pizza Team takes high rankings at the Spanish Pizza Championship with hemp seed pizza

Gino Rago, Panino’s Pizza, 2nd Place, Pizza Terrenal

Granada, Spain, October 8, 2018—Culinary Coach of the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) took second place in the Spanish Pizza Championship, held on October 8 in Granada, Spain, while four other USPT members finished in the top 10. Gino Rago of Panino’s Pizza in Chicago took home 2nd place in the Pizza Classica division. Michael LaMarca (Master Pizza, Cleveland, Ohio), Jason Samosky (Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria, Valley City, Ohio) and Dave Sommers (Mad Mushroom, West Lafayette, Ind.) placed 4th, 7th, and 10th respectively, also in the Classica category.  Missy Green took 3rd place in Freestyle Acrobatics.

Jason Samosky Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria, 7th place, Smoked Caprese Pizza

32 competitors from Spain, Italy and other countries participated in the 4th annual “Pizza por Pasión” competition organized by Antonia Ricciardi, President of the Università di Pizza Italiana nel Mondo. Ricciardi’s pizza association trains pizza professionals to open pizzerias and to compete in national and international pizza competitions. The competition took place within the regional trade show, Sabores de Nuestra Tierra, open to both consumers and professionals.

“This was our first step in coming to Spain, besides going to Italy, China, Sweden and many places all over America,” says Gino Rago, U.S. Pizza Team Culinary Coach. “There was an invitation and we jumped on it with the help of PMQ Pizza Magazine and all the USPT sponsors.”

Rago took home the silver medal with his Pizza Terrenal. Rago’s crust was made with part hemp seed flour from Molini Spigadoro, topped with Galbani American dry-aged mozzarella, homemade pork fennel sausage, local guanciale, yellow cherry tomatoes, homemade arugula pesto and finished with pink Himalayan sea salt.

Dave Sommers, Mad Mushroom, 10th place, Pizza La Balboa

Michael LaMarca, who was points away from taking 3rd, made his Sunday Meatball Pizza, reminiscent of big Sunday meals with his extended family. Jason Samosky placed 7th in Spain with his Smoked Caprese Pizza, which he finished off with beautiful purple edible flowers and a pomegranate reduction. Dave Sommers came in 10th with his pizza La Balboa topped with homemade sausage, arugula and honey from his family’s farm. 

In 2019, Ricciardi plans to expand the competition to include more culinary categories beyond Classica. The U.S. Pizza Team says they look forward to coming back and competing next year. “I can’t wait to come back,” says Samosky. “The welcome we received was unbelievable.”

Michael LaMarca, Master Pizza, 4th place, Sunday Meatball Pizza

The U.S. Pizza Team is sponsored nationally by Galbani Professionale, Molini Spigadoro, Grain Craft, Ferrarelle, MFG Tray, Real California Milk, Gordon Food Service, LaNova, Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Burkett Restaurant Equipment and Supplies, Bag Solutions, Fontanini Meats, Lillsun, Univex, Presto Foods and Lloyd Pans.

For more information about this event or the U.S. Pizza Team, contact Brian Hernandez at 662-234-5481 x129,, or visit





Brian Hernandez

Brian Hernandez