2020 Pizza Contest Winners

2020 Rcpc Winners Jpeg 5b52aebf

2020 Winning Recipes

Pizza Name: The Wharf


Makes 2 Pizzas

Sourdough Crust


60 grams sourdough starter, fed
260 grams water
10 grams extra-virgin olive oil
360 grams Antimo Caputo “00” flour
8 grams kosher sea salt


8 to 12 hours before you make your pizza:
Stir together starter, water and oil.
Add flour and salt and mix until the flour is completely hydrated.
Remove the dough and clean the bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough back, rolling to coat in the oil.
Cover w/ plastic and leave it at room temp until it doubles in size.
Preheat the oven:
Preheat a pizza stone to 550°F (or as high as your oven will go) on the middle rack for 30 to 45 minutes.
Shape Dough:
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in half.
Shape both halves into balls, cover and let sit 20 min.
When both have puffed again slightly, press from then center outward w/ fingertips making sure to leave an untouched and puffy lip.
When half the size, transfer to a cornmeal dusted peel and work out further until desired thickness is achieved.

Clam Sauce


1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ lb cured bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 pounds fresh littleneck clams scrubbed well
1 cup heavy cream
1/4th cup Bellwether Farms crème fraiche


Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil and bacon. Render fat from bacon and remove bacon from pan, reserving for later use. Add the onions and garlic to the drippings. Cook, on low, stirring often, until the onions are softened. Add the wine to the saucepan along with salt and pepper and bring it to a simmer, then add the clams and cook until they begin to open. Once open, transfer the clams to a large bowl and pick out the clam meat, chop when cooled.
Continue to simmer the wine and onion mixture until the wine is reduced into a thick glaze, around 10 minutes or so. Pour in the cream and add butter simmering and stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by half, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chopped clam meat and add crème fraiche, remove from heat.

Build The Wharf Pizza

Ingredients (Per Each Pizza):

2 oz. grated Arrezzio Riserva Mozzarella Cheese
2 oz. Point Reyes Fresh Mozzarella, torn into chunks
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed from stem
2-3 fingerling potatoes, par-boiled and sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flake
1/2 rendered bacon crumbles
Chopped parsley (to garnish)


Once dough is shaped to desired thickness top with:
½ the clam sauce and sprinkle with Arrezzio Riserva.
Lay out the sliced potatoes to cover and sprinkle with:
pepper flakes
thyme leaves
Drizzle with olive oil
Dot with torn mozzarella
Sprinkle whole pie with bacon

Bake until desired done-ness is achieved and remove from oven. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, slice pizza and serve! Repeat.

Pizza Name: Elotero


13oz dough ball at 65% hydration  made with 100% organic California grown wheat
5oz Rizo Bros queso Oaxaca
6oz guajillo braised pork shoulder
6oz corn requeson (made with El Mexicano brand requeson)
3oz sliced jalapeño
2.5 oz Rizo Bros queso Cotija
2oz micro cilantro
1oz lime juice

Preparation/Cooking Instructions or Recipe:

Stretch dough ball to approximately 14 inches round. Top with pinched pieces of queso Oaxaca. Scatter guajillo pork and sliced jalapeño evenly over the pizza. Spoon corn requeson into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and apply evenly over pizza. Bake in a deck oven at 570 degrees for about 5 1/2 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter Cotija cheese evenly over the pizza followed by the micro cilantro. Pour lime juice into a spray bottle. Lightly mist the top of the pizza with lime juice including the crust. Enjoy!

Pizza Name: Fire on the Mountain


13oz doughball at 65% hydration and made with 100% California grown organic wheat
6oz Rizo Bros Queso Oaxaca
4oz Roasted cauliflower seasoned with orange, cumin, and piment d’ville
3oz Fresno Pepper
4oz “chorizo” made with Impossible “meat”
1.5oz micro cilantro
1oz toasted pepitas
2oz Orange crema made with Cacique Mexican crema

Preparation/Cooking Instructions or Recipe:

Stretch dough to approximately 14”. Top with pinches of queso Oaxaca. Then top with roasted cauliflower, Fresno peppers, and Impossible chorizo. Bake in a deck oven set at 570 degrees for approximately 6 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter the micro cilantro on top followed by the pepitas. To finish drizzle orange crema decoratively on top of the pizza. Enjoy!

Play Video

Chef Ricky Webster Wins $15,000 for Recipe Inspired by San Francisco’s Iconic Fisherman’s Wharf in Real California Pizza Contest

Napa, Calif. (Nov. 19, 2020) – Using a revised bake-off format in line with the current Covid-19 protocols, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) awarded two contestants with $25,000, in the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest – an international search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. 

Grand Prize winner Ricky Webster, former executive chef for SYSCO Spokane and current owner of Rind and Wheat Bakery in Spokane, Wash., took home the grand prize for his pizza, The Wharf. Competing in The Real Californian category, Webster’s clam chowder-inspired pizza paired a sourdough crust and fresh clams with three California cheese and dairy products – crème fraîche, mozzarella, and heavy cream – to pay homage to the iconic San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf landmark. Webster received $5,000 for winning the category and an additional $10,000 for the grand prize distinction.

“I am beyond excited to have won the Grand Prize in the 2020 Real California Pizza Competition! My Pizza ‘The Wharf’ was truly inspired by growing up in the Bay Area,” said Webster. “Thank you to the CMAB for hosting this amazing competition and for still going through with it. It was such a positive event to be part of!”

Joining Webster in the winners’ circle was Lars Smith, a professional chef and owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in Los Altos, Calif. Smith won $10,000 for entries in both of the remaining two categories with the following pizzas: 

  • Elotero, a delicious interpretation of Mexican street corn that featured California Oaxaca, Cotija and Requeson cheeses alongside guajillo-braised pork shoulder, topped the Cal-Mex category by tastefully fusing California and Mexican cuisine; and 
  • Fire on the Mountain, which showcased California Oaxaca and crèma Mexicana to balance an assortment of produce-centric toppings including Fresno peppers and roasted cauliflower to win the Plant Forward category.

“Winning one of my categories would have been amazing but winning both categories wasn’t even something I considered a possibility. I also can’t stress enough how much winning in this specific competition means to me,” said Smith. “Using California cheeses and products in general is so integral to who I am as a chef. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to show everyone that California makes some of the best, if not the best, cheeses in the world.”

The nine other finalists received $500 each for reaching the bake-off.

“This year’s contest highlighted several top trends in foodservice,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB. “The finalists impressed the judges with unique recipes, bold interpretations within our innovative categories, and an overarching commitment to the creative use of California dairy throughout each pizza.”

The contest, which awarded prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California and made with Real California Milk, was open to professional chefs and culinary students across the U.S. The socially distanced bake-off event was held at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia in Napa, Calif.

After an entry period that resulted in entries from 24 different states, 11 professional chefs were selected as finalists, hailing from California and as far away as Florida, Texas, Washington, and Mexico. Efren Ríos, a professional chef from Mexico City, earned his spot as a finalist by winning the “Campeonato Mexicano de la Pizza” competition in late 2019. The international expansion of the contest in 2020 represents the broad appeal and application of California dairy products within foodservice outside of the United States.

The Covid-19 pandemic demanded significant adaption to safely conduct the 2020 iteration of the contest. To prioritize the health of all participants, the finalists’ winning recipes were prepared and baked by chef instructors from the CIA. These adjustments were vital to responsibly hold the contest, which served as an opportunity for the CMAB to stand with the foodservice industry following months of hardship from the pandemic. 

“Foodservice is a big part of total California dairy and, just as dairy farmers haven’t stopped producing nutritious milk during this uncertain time, the foodservice community has continued to step up and keep our communities fed,” said Bob Carroll, Vice President of Business Development for the CMAB. “Technomic estimates that total foodservice sales are going to be down 25% this year so continuing this contest and honoring the creativity and commitment of chefs and foodservice operators is one way we can help.”

A renowned panel of judges – Tony Gemignani, 13-time World Pizza Champion; Glenn Cybulski, certified pizzaiolo and award-winning executive chef; and Thomas Garnick, founder of Brava! Pizzeria and 2019 RCPC Grand Prize Winner – presided over the contest. The judges based their scores on a variety of factors including taste, texture and the inventive use of cheeses made with Real California Milk.

“When the pizza industry is healthy, the California dairy industry is healthy,” stated John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “So much of our business goes into the pizza industry that it’s really important for California dairy farmers when we can help advance and innovate in the pizza category.”

The full list of finalists for the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest is as follows:


  • CATEGORY WINNER: Lars Smith, a professional chef from Los Altos, Calif., is the owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. Smith was a finalist in the 2019 contest. 
  • Linda Ortega, a professional chef from Watsonville, Calif., is the owner of Fired Up Fresh. 
  • Jordan Lawson, a professional chef from Bellingham, Wash., works at La Fiamma Wood-Fire Pizza. 
  • Buffy Wimmer, a professional chef from McKinney, Texas, is the owner of Jersey Pies. She was a 2019 RCPC finalist as well. 

The Real Californian

  • GRAND PRIZE AND CATEGORY WINNER: Ricky Webster, another 2019 finalist, is a professional chef from Spokane, Wash. who worked at SYSCO Spokane and now owns Rind and Wheat Bakery. 
  • Efren Ríos, a professional chef from Mexico City, works at Bottega Napule. 
  • Justin Wadstein, a professional chef from Santa Cruz, Calif., is the owner of Sleight of Hand Pizza. 
  • Phillip Ma, a professional chef from San Francisco, Calif, is the owner of Dough. 

Plant Forward

  • CATEGORY WINNER: Lars Smith, a professional chef from Los Altos, Calif., is the owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. 
  • Domenica Catelli, a professional chef from Geyserville, Calif., is the owner of Catelli’s. 
  • Anisha Blodgett, a professional chef from San Diego, Calif., is the owner of Powerhaus Wholesome Pizza & Eats. 
  • Joe Mialki, a professional chef from Port Orange, Florida, is the co-owner of Giuseppe’s Steel City Pizza.

About Real California Milk/the California Milk Advisory Board

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy families and is one of the largest agricultural marketing boards in the United States. With a mission to increase demand for products made with Real California Milk, the CMAB is celebrating 50 years of promoting California’s sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs. 

The Foodservice Division of the CMAB supports foodservice operators and distributors that use Real California dairy products. The CMAB offers marketing and promotional support for foodservice operators that purchase dairy products with The Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with 100 percent milk from California’s more than 1,200 family dairy farms.

Skip to content