October 17, 2023

Past Champions to Square Off in Head-to-Head Pizza Showdown; Grand Prize Winner Receives All-Expense Paid Trip to Italy to Compete in 2024 Caputo Cup

The Tournament of Champions is a new foodservice competition celebrating the success of the California Milk Advisory Board’s annual Real California Pizza Contest, which has had five triumphant years since its debut in 2019. 

The California Milk Advisory Board has invited 10 past Real California Pizza Contest champions to participate in an invitational bake-off on Oct. 17, 2023, with a singular goal: create the quintessential California pizza. Their pizzas will feature ingredients that showcase the best of the Golden State with a special focus on California dairy and cheese products. After all, California is the nation’s leading dairy state and number one producer of mozzarella in the country. The grand prize winner (along with one guest) will receive an all-expense trip to Italy to compete as a CMAB-sponsored chef in the 2024 Caputo Cup Pizza Competition, Italy’s largest, most renowned pizza contest. Each of the 10 returning champions that compete will take home $1,000 for participating in the event.

For more information on the Oct. 17 bake-off, watch for updates on this website as well as the CMAB Foodservice social media pages.

Participating Champions

Grand Prize Winners

Thomas Garnick
Tucson, AZ

2019, Cal-Mex & Grand Prize

Thomas Garnick, owner of Sapore Concepts, excels in wood-fired cuisine and shares his culinary expertise through mentoring, consulting, and immersive culinary experiences. He's a passionate advocate for the transformative power of food and fire. Thomas won as a Grand Prize Winner in 2019.

Ricky Webster
Spokane, WA

2020, REAL Californian & Grand Prize

Ricky Webster is the visionary behind a thriving artisan bread and cheese shop. His dream has blossomed into a reality, and he's known for his dedication to crafting exceptional bread and cheese. Ricky won as a Grand Prize Winner in 2020.

Spencer Glenn
Monterey, CA

2021, Cal-Mex, Plant-Forward & Grand Prize

Spencer Glenn, with a pizza passion since joining Pizza My Heart in 2003, rose from a delivery driver to become the Food/Beverage Manager and Executive Chef. As a proud member of the World Pizza Champions, Spencer is an all-around pizza enthusiast. Spencer won as a Grand Prize Winner in 2021.

David Jacobson
Oakland, CA

2022, REAL Californian & Grand Prize

David Jacobson's pizza journey began at Pizza My Heart. With 20 years of experience, he is now a chef at Acre Kitchen & Bar in Oakland. David won as a Grand Prize Winner in 2022.

Bill Crawford
Rexburg, ID

2023, Cal-Mex & Grand Prize

Bill Crawford, a former US Air Force fighter pilot and Harvard MBA graduate, ventured into the pizza business with Righteous Slice in Idaho. He excelled in the World Pizza Championships in Italy, owning one of the "25 Pizzerias to Watch in 2023" recognized by Pizza Today magazine. Bill was a Grand Prize Winner in 2023.

Category Winners

Giovanni Labbate
Schaumburg, IL

2019, All Cheese
2023, Plant-Forward

Giovanni Labbate, with over 35 years in the pizzeria business, recently launched Tievoli Pizza Bar, driven by his love for pizza, food, and family. Giovanni was a Category Winner in 2019 and 2023.

Marcus Medina
Tracy, CA

2022, Cal-Mex

Marcus Medina's Hella Pie Pizza Co. thrives on core values of quality and community. Voted Best Food Vendor and Best Pizza in Tracy, California, his goal is to cultivate a local pizza culture with a dash of '90s nostalgia. Marcus won as a Category Winner in 2022.

Vincent Sbarro
Concord, CA

2023, REAL Californian

Vincent Sbarro, inspired by his family's pizza legacy, founded Forno Di Sbarro Wood Fired Pizza Catering and Vinnie's Pizzeria in California, offering quality New York-style pizza. Vincent won as a Category Winner in 2023.

Leah Scurto
Windsor, CA

2021, REAL Californian
2022, Plant-Forward

Leah Scurto, an award-winning pizzaiola and owner of PizzaLeah, focuses on fresh, local, and organic ingredients. She's a returning competitor in pizza contests and enjoys teaching pizza classes. Leah was a Category Winner in 2021 and 2022.

Lars Smith
Los Altos, CA

2020, Cal-Mex & Plant-Forward

Executive chef Lars Smith co-owns State of Mind Restaurant Group, known for its California-inspired cuisine. He's a pizza competition veteran and champions seasonal, local ingredients in his menus. Lars won two categories in 2020.
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