Contest Updates

2019 Contest Ended May 9, 2019

Stay tuned to this site for news about the 2020 contest 
Scheduled for June 17 &18, 2020

Denver Chef Thomas Garnick Wins $15,000 in National Real California Pizza Contest

Winners from Chicago and Las Vegas Take Home $5,000 Each in Bake-off Featuring Real California Cheeses

After 11 chefs spent a competitive day crafting and working pizza dough, developing unique toppings and sauces, and combining innovative blends of California cheeses, on May 9th the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) rewarded three with the ultimate prize in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest – a national search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese.

Grand Prize winner, Thomas Garnick, from Brava! Pizzeria in Denver, took home the top prize for his Bandera de Fusión pizza representing the Mexican-Style category. This pizza, inspired by the Mexican flag, included pork carnitas, salsa verde and mole and featured four California-produced Hispanic-style cheese and dairy products – Oaxaca, asadero, cotija and crèma Mexicana. Garnick received $5,000 for winning the category and an additional $10,000 for the grand prize distinction.

Two other category winners, each taking home $5,000, joined Garnick in the winners’ circle:

  • Giovanni Labbate, from Bricks Wood Fired Pizza Café in Schaumburg, Ill., who won the All Cheese category with his pizza called Harvest. Harvest, a New York-style pizza, was topped with kale, butternut squash and caramelized red onions and showcased California-produced mozzarella, fontina and parmesan.
  • Las Vegas-based chef John Alers, of Flour & Barley – Brick Oven Pizza won The REAL California category with a California-inspired gluten-free pizza called Cow-Incidence. Cow-Incidence blended applewood-smoked bacon, roasted chicken breast, pulled pork and was topped with three California-produced cheeses – mozzarella, smoked mozzarella and raw sharp cheddar.

The contest, awarding prize money totaling $25,000 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 contest was held at The CIA at Copia, The Culinary Institute of America’s epicurean destination in Napa, Calif.

Nine professional chefs and two culinary students competed in the national finals. Chefs represented restaurants and food companies from California and as far away as New Jersey, Texas, Ohio and Washington, with two culinary students representing The Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif. and the Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School.

Three culinary professionals – Barbara Alexander, executive chef and consulting partner for The Culinary Institute of America’s consulting division; Glenn Cybulski, certified pizzaiolo and award-winning executive chef; and Scott Weiner, founder of Scott’s Pizza Tours in NYC – evaluated each entry. The judges based their blind evaluations on a variety of factors with a focus on the innovative use of cheeses made with Real California Milk.

“The pizzas created today really showcased the innovation happening in the pizza category,” said Mike Gallagher, business and market development consultant for the CMAB. “The judges were impressed by the creativity represented in the recipes as well as the culinary skills demonstrated in bringing those recipes to life – from the selection of raw ingredients through to the final bake.”

“We were excited to see the diverse choices of cheeses used from throughout California,” said CMAB CEO John Talbot. “As the top producer in the United States, we were expecting to see plenty of California-produced mozzarella, but we were also pleased to see so many non-traditional varieties like ricotta, asiago, blue, dry jack, and white and garlic cheddar. And because we included a Mexican-style recipe category, we saw some delicious combinations of great Hispanic-style cheeses – from Oaxaca, queso fresco, asadero and cotija to crèma Mexicana. It is this kind of creativity and variety that California cheeses have become known for and we are thrilled that these chefs are making such good use of it.”

Following is a full list of the all the finalists, their affiliations and pizza concepts for the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest:

Mexican-Style

  • GRAND PRIZE AND CATEGORY WINNER: Thomas Garnick, a professional chef from Denver, Colo., founded Brava! Pizzeria. This top prize was inspired by the Mexican flag and included pork carnitas, salsa verde, mole and featured four California-produced Hispanic-style cheeses – Oaxaca, asadero, cotija and crèma Mexicana.
  • Spencer Glenn, a professional chef from Pacific Grove, Calif., works at Pizza My Heart. His entry, Holy Mole, featured Oaxaca, cotija and crèma Mexican along with chicken mole, avocado and purple radishes.
  • Justin Pearson is a culinary student from Dublin, Ohio, where he attends the Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School. His entry, Carnitas Street Taco Pizza, featured cotija, Oaxaca, queso fresco and fresh crèma along with a green chile pesto, spicy pickled vegetables and carnitas.
  • Lars Smith, a professional chef from Palo Alto, Calif., works at State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. His entry, Super Chorizo con Papa, featured Oaxaca, queso fresco, cotija and crèma Mexican along with chorizo and pickled red onion. Lars was also selected as finalist in The REAL California category.

All Cheese

  • CATEGORY WINNER: Giovanni Labbate, a professional chef from Schaumburg, Ill., works at Bricks Wood Fired Pizza Café. His entry, Harvest, was a New York-style pizza featuring kale, butternut squash and caramelized red onions and showcased California-produced mozzarella, fontina and parmesan.
  • Daniel Bothman, a professional chef from Bellingham, Wash., works at La Fiamma Wood-Fire Pizza. His entry, Sei Cheese White Pie, was a white sauce pizza that featured an herbed ricotta base, along with blue cheese, gorgonzola, dry jack and a blend of mozzarella, provolone and cheddar.
  • Buffy Wimmer, a professional chef from McKinney, Texas owns Jersey Pies. Her entry, St. Patty’s Irish Pub Pizza, was an Irish-inspired pizza that featured seasoned hash browns, smoked bacon and a splash of Guinness. The cheeses that her recipe showcased are sharp cheddar, low moisture mozzarella and asiago.
  • No qualified culinary student entries were identified for this category.

The REAL California

  • CATEGORY WINNER: John Alers, a professional chef from Henderson, Nev., works at Flour & Barley – Brick Oven Pizza. His entry, Cow-Incidence, a California-inspired gluten-free pizza featured blended applewood-smoked bacon, roasted chicken breast, pulled pork and was topped with three California-produced cheeses – mozzarella, smoked mozzarella and raw sharp cheddar.
  • Erin MacLennan, a culinary student from Allendale, N.J., just graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif. Her entry, The Kale-ifornia, featured California produced garlic cheddar cheese along with kale, bacon and julienned onions.
  • Ricky Webster, a professional chef from Spokane, Wash., works at SYSCO Spokane. His entry, Chard to Resist, was a California-inspired pizza that featured ricotta, mezzo secco and raw white cheddar cheese, hot honey and shallots.
  • Lars Smith is a professional chef who works at State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in Palo Alto, Calif. His entry, The Napa Grandma, was crafted around cheddar and burrata cheese and featured red wine salami, pickled grapes and arugula. Lars was also selected as finalist in the Mexican-Style category.

Pizza for Breakfast?

If you love starting your morning with a bowl of Raisin Bran or another healthy-sounding cereal, we have some bad news: The majority of cereals are packed with sugar and really aren’t the best way to kickstart your day.

To drive home the point that crunchy and sweet flakes shouldn’t be your go-to breakfast, prominent nutritionist Chelsey Amer suggests a surprising replacement for your daily dose of cereal: a slice of pizza.

A slice of pizza and a bowl of cereal with whole milk have a similar number of calories. However, pizza contains a much higher amount of protein and offers the nutrients to satisfy your appetite and fuel your day. The protein and nutrients in pizza come from cheese, which provides several health benefits. On the other hand, cereal lacks protein and has an extremely high amount of sugar; one bowl of cereal almost meets the recommended daily amount of sugar. This leads to an inevitable sugar crash and an immediate drop in energy.

For more detailed information, please read on at Health.com.

Finalists Compete for $25,000 in National Pizza Contest Bake-Off

11 CHEF AND CULINARY STUDENT CONTESTANTS TO SHOWCASE INNOVATIVE RECIPES USING REAL CALIFORNIA CHEESE

Tracy, Calif. – April 19, 2019 – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced eleven finalists in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest – a search for the best recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, awarding prize money totaling $25,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California in three categories, was open to professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.

Recipes submitted between February 1 and March 25, 2019 were blind-evaluated by a panel of three pizza professionals – Glenn Cybulski, certified pizzaiolo and award-winning executive chef; Scott Weiner, founder of Scott’s pizza tours in NYC; and Mark Todd, an expert foodservice/retail cheese educator.  

After careful evaluation of pizza names, inspiration, recipe and use of ingredients, eleven individuals have been selected as finalists in three respective categories: All Cheese, Mexican-Style, The REAL California.  

“We are very excited by the creativity and innovation that went into these recipes,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB.  “We are thrilled that we have such a diverse breadth of geographic representation in the finalist group and are looking forward to seeing them in action.”

Finalists will travel to the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, California for the live bake-off finale on May 9th. Their pizzas will be prepared and baked onsite for a blind judging session with judges Cybulski, Wiener and Barbara Alexander, a professional executive chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. Category winners will receive $5,000 and the Grand Prize Winner, selected from all category winners, will receive an additional $10,000.

Following are the finalists in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest:

All Cheese

  • Giovanni Labbate, a professional chef from Schaumburg, Ill., who works at Bricks Wood Fired Pizza Café. His entry, Harvest, is a New York-style pizza featuring kale, butternut squash and caramelized red onions.
  • Daniel Bothman, a professional chef from Bellingham, Wash., where he works at La Fiamma Wood-Fire Pizza. His entry, Sei Cheese White Pie, is a white sauce pizza that features an herbed ricotta base with provolone and white cheddar.
  • Buffy Wimmer, a professional chef from McKinney, Texas, who works at Jersey Pies. Her entry, St. Patty’s Irish Pub Pizza, is an Irish-inspired pizza that features seasoned hash browns, smoked bacon and a splash of Guinness.
  • No qualified culinary student entries were identified for this category.

Mexican-Style

  • Thomas Garnick, a professional chef from Denver, Colo., where he works at Brava! Pizza. His entry, Bandera de Fusión, is inspired by the Mexican flag and features pork carnitas, salsa verde and mole.
  • Spencer Glenn, a professional chef from Pacific Grove, Calif., who works at Pizza My Heart. His entry, Holy Mole, is a Mexican-style pizza that features chicken mole, avocado and purple radishes.
  • Lars Smith, a professional chef from Palo Alto, Calif., who works at State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. His entry, Super Chorizo con Papa, is a Mexican-style pizza that features chorizo, cotija cheese and pickled red onion. Lars was also selected as finalist in The REAL California category.
  • Justin Pearson, a culinary student from Dublin, Ohio, where he attends the Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School. His entry, Carnitas Street Taco Pizza, is a Mexican-styled pizza that features green chile pesto, spicy pickled vegetables and carnitas.

The REAL California

  • John Alers, a professional chef from Henderson, Nev., who works at Flour and Barley. His entry, Cowincidence, is a California-inspired pizza that features Applewood smoked bacon, roasted chicken breast and pulled pork.
  • Ricky Webster, a professional chef from Spokane, Wash., who works at SYSCO Spokane. His entry, The Chard to Resist, is a California-inspired pizza that features ricotta cheese, hot honey and shallots.
  • Lars Smith, a professional chef from Palo Alto, Calif., who works at State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. His entry, The Napa Grandma, is a California-inspired pizza featuring red wine salami, pickled grapes and arugula. Lars was also selected as finalist in the Mexican-Style category.
  • Erin MacLennan, a culinary student from Allendale, N.J., studying at the Culinary Institute of America. Her entry, The Kale-ifornia, is a California-inspired pizza featuring kale, bacon and julienned onions.

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 more than 1,300 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 in 2019 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 1,300 dairy families.

For more information on sourcing cheese from California, please contact the foodservice team at 209.883.6455 (MILK), businessdevelopment@cmab.net or RealCaliforniaMilk.com/Foodservice.

Popularity of Mexican Style Pizza

Pizza originated in the Naples region of Italy hundreds of years ago. What started as a cultural dish has morphed into an international favorite that is now enjoyed around the world. Many countries have created their own form of pizza by drawing inspiration from their culture. For example, deep-dish pizza was created in Chicago and is an extremely popular item in the United States. Pizza chefs in Mexico have creatively used combinations of ingredients and specific cheeses to drastically increase the popularity and visibility of Mexican-style pizzas.

What sets Mexican-style pizza apart from other forms of pizza are the combination of ingredients used. Chorizo is an extremely popular version of pork sausage in Mexico, and it is often used as the primary meat ingredient in Mexican-style pizzas. The inclusion of chorizo in a pizza helps signify and promote Mexican culture.

The type of cheese that is used is another factor in identifying Mexican-style pizza. Mozzarella is the most widely used cheese for pizza around the world. The famous Mexican cheese, Oaxaca, is a similar cheese. In addition, popular Mexican cheeses such as cotija and queso fresco are used frequently in Mexican-style pizzas. Using such popular national cheeses in pizza helps to provide a small taste of Mexican heritage in every bite. Lastly, the selection of toppings is a significant factor in differentiating Mexican-style pizza from other types.

Ingredients such as beans, corn, jalapenos, salsa, and chili powder are commonly used in many Mexican-style pizza recipes. Most would assume to see these ingredients on a taco or inside a burrito, but the brilliant minds of pizza chefs in Mexico have formed delicious recipes calling for them on top of a pizza.

The innovative combination of Mexican meats, cheese, and toppings has vaulted Mexican-style pizza to the forefront of the pizza industry. Mexican-style pizzas are becoming common items on pizzeria menus through the United States, as well as in the frozen food aisle of almost every grocery store. This popularity can be traced to the unique combination of ingredients that produce original flavors while leaving customers pleasantly satisfied and yearning for more. Join the growing trend and try a Mexican-style pizza soon!

National Pizza Contest Offers Chefs, Students Up to $25,000 for Innovative Recipes Using Real California Cheese

Looking to win cash, publicity, and the opportunity to prove your pizza is the best? The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) recently announced the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest. The objective is simple: to find the best pizza recipes that use Real California Cheese. The contest, which awards prize money totaling $25,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open to professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.

Participants can enter recipes in three categories:

  • All Cheese, recipes using three or more
  • Real California Cheeses Mexican-Style, pizzas featuring Hispanic-style cheeses from California cheesemakers
  • The REAL California, ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings

Participants will be able to submit entries through March 25, 2019. Twelve finalists – three professional chefs and one culinary student in each category – will be selected by a professional panel of judges. These finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, California to compete in a live bake-off final event on May 9, 2019. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will win an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

“Cheese is at the heart of every great pizza. With more than 78,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and another 100,000 plus restaurants serving some type of pizza or flatbread, it makes sense to showcase the inventive ways chefs and culinary students are using California cheese to set themselves apart,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB. “As the leading producer of Mozzarella as well as Hispanic-style and Monterey Jack cheeses, we’re excited to celebrate these artisans and their creations.”

Interested chefs and culinary students can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal. These cheeses are made with milk from one of the 1,300 dairy farm families located in California. For more information about qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and how to enter online, please sign up here for your chance to win!

National Pizza Contest Offers Chefs, Students Up to $25,000 for Innovative Recipes Using Real California Cheese

Tracy, Calif. – February 1, 2019 – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest – a search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, which awards prize money totaling $25,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open to professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.

The contest kicks off Friday, February 1, 2019 when participants can enter recipes in three categories: All Cheese, recipes using three or more Real California Cheeses; Mexican-Style, pizzas featuring Mexican-style cheeses from California cheesemakers; and The REAL California, ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Entry submissions close on March 25, 2019.

“Cheese is at the heart of every great pizza. With more than 78,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and another 100,000 plus restaurants serving some type of pizza or flatbread, it makes sense to showcase the inventive ways chefs and culinary students are using California cheese to set themselves apart,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB. “As the leading producer of Mozzarella as well as Hispanic-style and Monterey Jack cheeses, we’re excited to celebrate these artisans and their creations.”

Twelve finalists – three professional chefs and one culinary student in each category – will be selected by a professional panel of judges to compete in a bake-off on May 9, 2019 at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Interested chefs and culinary students can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with milk from California’s more than 1,300 dairy farm families. For a list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and to enter online, visit http://realcaliforniamilk.com/foodservice.

* * *

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 more than 1,300 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 in 2019 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 1,300 dairy families.

For more information on sourcing cheese from California, please contact the foodservice team at 209.883.6455 (MILK), businessdevelopment@cmab.net or visit RealCaliforniaMilk.com/Foodservice.

# # #

Contact:

Dave Chapman
The Food Connector for CMAB
dchapman@thefoodconnector.com 
(415) 381-8804

Jennifer Giambroni
CMAB
jgiambroni@cmab.net 
(209) 690-8244

Sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board — from the nation’s #1 dairy state!

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