Contest Updates

Cal-Mex: Top Culinary Trend from the Golden State

From fresh and fast to nuanced and nostalgic, Mexican cuisine is more popular than ever before. Though Americans sometimes think of “Mexican food” as having one distinct flavor profile, traditional Mexican cooking encompasses a tremendous range of ingredients, styles and flavors.

Today, leading-edge chefs are satisfying the appetite for authentic foods and flavors and showing that traditional Mexican cooking can reflect an almost endless variety of ingredients and creative interpretations. In addition, over the years, as cooks in the U.S. interpreted beloved Mexican recipes, interesting hybrid flavors and forms emerged and coalesced into regional styles of cooking.

One of these American regional cuisines is Tex-Mex, a subtype of Southwestern cuisine that originated with the Tejano people of Texas. Tex-Mex food is known for a heartiness and distinctive flavor associated with a heavy use of shredded cheese, “ranch meats” including beef, pork and goat and the addition of non-traditional spices such as cumin to traditionally used Mexican peppers and spices.

As Tex-Mex was evolving in the Southwest, another cuisine was on the rise in a state known for setting the trends that spread across the country. In contrast with Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, a fusion of California cuisine and traditional Mexican cooking, is known for fresh and seasonal ingredients, lighter proteins and plant-forward dishes, as well as new takes on Mexican regional dishes like tacos gobernadores, tlayudas and alambres.

Just as “Mexican chiles” advanced in the American culinary imagination from jalapenos and habaneros to chipotles, pasillas, ghost peppers and more, in Cal-Mex dishes, dairy is a star ingredient that has helped Cal-Mex cuisine evolve beyond the old-school “smothered in melted Cheddar” approach to encompass a growing variety of Hispanic-style cheeses and cremas. These dairy ingredients are the perfect complement to the lighter fish, seafood and meats, brighter citrus flavors and fresh fruits (including avocados, melons, mango, kiwi and papaya), so often featured in Cal-Mex’s reinvented Mexican dishes.

Just as the ranches in Texas were a foundation for Tex-Mex cooking, the California dairy industry—in existence for more than 250 years—played a symbiotic role in the development of Cal-Mex-style cuisine. Today, California is the leading U.S. producer of Hispanic-style dairy products, providing flavorful products with consistent quality in varieties like semisweet requeson (a Hispanic version of ricotta used in Cal-Mex salads, dips and cooked foods and desserts) and asadero (a mild and firm cheese eaten “as is” on Cal-Mex sandwiches and melted in cooked dishes). With healthier menus on the rise, Cal-Mex classics such as fish tacos with cotija and crema can now be found on menus from West to East and, though not considered a Hispanic-style cheese, Monterey Jack, a popular variety of cheese that originated in California, is an indispensable ingredient in Cal-Mex quesadillas and enchiladas. Other California Hispanic-style favorites commonly used as the cornerstones of Cal-Mex cooking include queso fresco, queso blanco, panela and Oaxaca.

From community favorites to cutting-edge concepts, diners can now find Cal-Mex restaurants throughout California, and, increasingly, across the country. With them, California Hispanic-style cheeses are becoming more and more popular as Cal-Mex gains an increasingly important voice in the culinary conversation.

Pizza is the perfect item to bring the authentic flavors of Cal-Mex to the menu in 2021. Hispanic-style cheeses from California form the perfect foundation to tastefully delight customers with innovative recipes featuring a Latin-flavor profile. In addition, the continuation of the pandemic continues to place a premium on delivery and takeout, which is ideally suited for pizza.

Deliver your customers a bite into the Cal-Mex trend with fresh, Hispanic-style cheeses from California!

2019 RCPC Category Winner Helps Feed Hospital Employees

Chicago chef and 2019 RCPC Winner Giovanni Labbate is going above and beyond to take care of essential workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On December 16th and 17th, Labbate brought his pizza truck, Billy Bricks on Wheels 2, to the AMITA Health St Alexis Hospital in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This kind act was supported by the “Plating Change” program spearheaded by Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC’s popular show, “The Profit”. This program is “challenging Americans to give back to their local restaurants and help those who are food insecure” through the pandemic.

The “Plating Change” program will be run through the recently launched The Lemon Aid Foundation, which received a $50 million dollar pledge from Lemonis in an effort to support underserved communities and small businesses.

The Lemon Aid Foundation has partnered with GrubHub to help carry out the “Plating Change” program. GrubHub will play a significant role in helping the program give back to the World Central Kitchen by purchasing meals and driving revenue for independent restaurants as well as providing free meals for communities in need. These actions are underway in large metro areas such as New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia.

Labbate won the All-Cheese category during the inaugural Real California Pizza Contest with his delicious entry, Harvest, in 2019.

For more information about this story, please click here and read on at Pizza Today.

The Recipes from the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest!

The 12 final recipes in the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest dazzled our panel of expert judges with tremendous flavor, fresh toppings, and the creative use of California dairy.

The opportunity has arrived for YOU to serve the same delicious pizzas that stole the show at this year’s contest. Please browse the recipes and short descriptions below that promise to highlight any menu and delight every customer in 2021!

Cal-Mex

Al Pastor (Linda Ortega) is a tribute to Mexican heritage and features fresh Cotija alongside marinated pork adobo and California Chili Sauce.

Chile Relleno Pizza (Jordan Lawson) utilizes rich Queso Quesadilla and Crema Mexicana to tastefully balance green tomatillo salsa and roasted poblanos.

Pizza Taco de Callejero (Buffy Wimmer) is a street taco-inspired pizza highlighted by the delicious combination of four Hispanic-style California cheeses paired with carne asada and zesty mango salsa.

Elotero (Lars Smith) combines Queso Oaxaca and Cotija with tender guajillo braised pork shoulder and corn Requeson to honor those who make and sell Mexican street corn.

The REAL California

Bronte (Efren Ríos) provides an original interpretation of California cuisine through fresh yellow tomatoes, eggplant, pistachios, and basil on top of rich California Provolone.

Cali Crab (Justin Wadstein) blends two California favorites – Dungeness crab and pesto – with fresh Mozzarella and Triple Crème.

Szechuan Pizza (Phillip Ma) incorporates Chinese heritage into a delicious interpretation of a California fusion pizza highlighted by fresh Mozzarella and Szechuan Chili.

The Wharf (Ricky Webster) combines a sourdough crust and fresh clams with rich crème fraîche and Mozzarella for a delicious ode to San Francisco’s landmark Fisherman’s Wharf.

Plant Forward

The New “Old School” (Domenica Catelli) pairs cauliflower crust and plant-based sausage with fresh Burrata and Smoked Mozzarella for an inventive twist on a classic recipe.

Roasted Mushrooms Pizza on High-Protein Whole-Grain Crust (Anisha Blodgett) features fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and arugula on top of delicious Mozzarella and creamy Ricotta.

The Shelly (Joe Mialki) tastefully incorporates spinach, mushrooms, and mini tomatoes alongside a pistachio pesto sauce and fresh Mozzarella.

Fire on the Mountain (Lars Smith) relies on Queso Oaxaca and rich Mexican Crema to form a rich foundation for plant-based chorizo, Fresno peppers, and roasted cauliflower.

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 California 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:

Cal-Mex

  • 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 California

  • 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.

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.

Why Our 2020 Finalists Rely on REAL California Cheese

The 2020 Real California Pizza Contest challenged top pizzas chefs around the country to creatively incorporate REAL California cheese into a signature recipe, and they delivered. Our 12 winning recipes all demonstrate innovative, tasteful ways to use California dairy products on pizzas that would highlight any menu.

Below are detailed quotes from our talented finalists that describe how REAL California cheese inspired their recipe:

Cal-Mex

Lars Smith: “I chose the Oaxaca because of its meltability, cotija for its depth of flavor, and the requesón for its creaminess. Together, I think they show the diversity of Hispanic-style cheeses.”

Buffy Wimmer: “We are using a Hispanic-style menonita for its rich, creamy and melting qualities; grated cotija to elevate the earthy black bean spread; dreamy creamy crema to smooth the avocado drizzle and crumbled queso fresco for the salty texture punch on top.”

Jordan Lawson: “Crema mexicana is great for evenly adding a cool down from the spice.”

The REAL California

Justin Wadstein: “California mozzarella is smooth and less salty, allowing the crab, pesto, and lemon to really come through. California triple creme gets dropped on top for that extra decadent pop of flavor in each bite.”

Plant-Forward

Joe Mialki: “Pizza is only as good as the products you start with. That’s why my dad only used California cheese on every pizza he ever sold and why I will only use California cheese on every pizza I sell. I demand the best and my customers expect the best. California cheese manufacturers have always delivered.”

Anisha Blodgett: “I selected California mozzarella because the milk produced from grass-fed cows has higher nutritional value. Similarly, I chose California ricotta as it’s made from cow’s milk and is made naturally without additives. The quality of both these cheeses produces a tastier, and healthier, pizza!”

From the spicy toppings of Cal-Mex to the inventive ingredients of Plant-Forward, REAL California cheese offers the quality taste and texture that is essential to crafting any delicious pizza.

Be sure to tune into The Finals on November 17th to see who takes home the $15,000 Grand Prize!

Tune in November 18th to Watch the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest!

During these uncertain times, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) stands with the foodservice industry. The Real California Pizza Contest serves as a vehicle to put the foodservice industry front and center and reward top chefs with cash prizes, which are more useful than ever given the pandemic. Because of this opportunity, CMAB has marched ahead and adapted the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest to take place in a safe, socially distant manner.

Due to safety precautions, the 2020 iteration of the contest will have a unique look. It will take place virtually on November 7th, with our talented finalists competing from the safety of their home. 

Pre-Contest:

  • The finalists will review the baking and preparation process of their recipes with four instructor chefs from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
  • Each finalist will virtually perform their inspiration speech to our panel of judges

Saturday, November 7th:

  • The four instructor chefs prepare each pizza as instructed by the finalists at the CIA Copia facility in Napa, California
  • The pizzas move straight from the kitchen to a spaced-out judges table, where our judges will be live on-site to analyze, debate, and grade the merits of each pizza
  • The judges will deliberate together and determine the Category Winners and Grand Prize Winner

Tuesday, November 18th:

  • CMAB will deliver an hour-long special that provides a summary of the contest and concludes with an awards ceremony that features our finalists via Zoom
  • The live awards ceremony, with real-time reactions from all the finalists, promises to add intrigue, drama, and excitement to the finale of the contest

These adaptions were necessary steps to prioritize the health of our finalists and staff while still awarding THE top pizza chefs with lucrative grand prizes!

Stay tuned for more information and updates about the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest!

Finalists Compete for $30,000 in International Pizza Contest Top Pizza Chefs Showcase Innovative Recipes Using Real California Cheese

Tracy, Calif. – August 13, 2020 – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced finalists in the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest (RCPC) – a search for the best recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, in its second year, will award prize money totaling $30,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California in three categories. 

Professional chefs and culinary students from 24 states submitted recipes between May 22 and July 17, 2020. Entries were blind-evaluated by a panel of three pizza professionals – Glenn Cybulski, certified pizzaiolo and award-winning executive chef; Thomas Garnick, founder of Brava! Pizzeria and 2019 RCPC Grand Prize Winner; and Mark Todd, culinary expert and foodservice/retail cheese educator.  

This year’s contest features the best pizza recipes from the United States and Mexico with the winner of the “Campeonato Mexicano de la Pizza”, sponsored by the CMAB in late 2019, earning a guaranteed spot as a finalist in the bakeoff. The international expansion of the contest displays the broad appeal and application of California dairy at foodservice outside of the United States.

After careful evaluation of pizza names, inspiration, recipe and use of ingredients, eleven individuals have been selected as finalists in three respective categories: Cal-Mex, The REAL California, and Plant-Forward.

“Pizza has global appeal and offers a blank canvas for expression. We are inspired by the creativity and innovation that went into these recipes, which represent a spectrum of ingredients and flavor combinations all brought together with California cheese” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB.  “We are also thrilled that we have such a diverse breadth of geographic representation in the finalist group and are looking forward to seeing them in action.”

The virtual bakeoff takes place on October 10, 2020, at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif., where pizzas will be prepared and baked onsite for a blind evaluation by judges. Category winners will receive $5,000 and the Grand Prize Winner, selected from all category winners, will receive an additional $10,000. All remaining finalists will receive $500 each.

Following are the finalists in the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest:

Cal-Mex

  • Linda Ortega, a professional chef from Watsonville, Calif., is the owner of Fired Up Fresh. Her entry, Al Pastor, is a tribute to her husband’s Mexican heritage and features fresh Cotija alongside marinated pork adobo and California Chili Sauce.
  • Jordan Lawson, is a professional chef from Bellingham, Wash., where he works at La Fiamma Wood-Fire Pizza. His entry, Chile Relleno Pizza, utilizes rich Queso Quesadilla and Crema Mexicana to tastefully balance green tomatillo salsa and roasted poblanos.
  • Buffy Wimmer, a professional chef from McKinney, Texas, is the owner of Jersey Pies. Her entry, Pizza Taco de Callejero, is a street taco-inspired pizza highlighted by the delicious combination of four Hispanic-style California cheeses paired with carne asada and zesty mango salsa. Buffy competed in the 2019 RCPC finals.
  • Lars Smith, a professional chef from Palo Alto, Calif., is the owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. His entry, Elotero, combines Queso Oaxaca and Cotija with tender guajillo braised pork shoulder and corn Requeson to honor those who make and sell Mexican street corn. Lars was also selected as a finalist in the Plant-Forward category. He was a 2019 RCPC finalist as well. 

The REAL California

  • Efren Ríos, a professional chef from Mexico City, works at Bottega Napule. His entry, Bronte, provides an original interpretation of California cuisine through fresh yellow tomatoes, eggplant, pistachios, and basil on top of rich California Provolone.
  • Justin Wadstein, a professional chef from Santa Cruz, Calif., is the owner of Sleight of Hand Pizza. His entry, Cali Crab, blends two California favorites – Dungeness crab and pesto – with fresh Mozzarella and Triple Crème.
  • Phillip Ma, a professional chef from San Francisco, Calif, is the owner of Dough. His entry, Szechuan Pizza, incorporates his Chinese heritage into a delicious interpretation of a California fusion pizza highlighted by fresh Mozzarella and Szechuan Chili.
  • Ricky Webster, is a professional chef from Spokane, Wash. who works at SYSCO Spokane. His entry, The Wharf, combines a sourdough crust and fresh clams with rich crème fraîche and Mozzarella for a delicious ode to San Francisco’s landmark Fisherman’s Wharf. Ricky was another 2019 RCPC finalist. 

Plant-Forward

  • Domenica Catelli, a professional chef from Geyserville, Calif., is the owner of Catelli’s. Her entry, The New “Old School”, pairs cauliflower crust and plant-based sausage with fresh Burrata and Smoked Mozzarella for an inventive twist on a classic recipe.
  • Anisha Blodgett, a professional chef from San Diego, Calif., is the owner of Powerhaus Wholesome Pizza & Eats. Her entry, Roasted Mushrooms Pizza on High-Protein Whole-Grain Crust, features fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and arugula on top of delicious Mozzarella and creamy Ricotta.
  • Joe Mialki, a professional chef from Port Orange, Florida, is the co-owner of Giuseppe’s Steel City Pizza. His entry, The Shelly, tastefully incorporates spinach, mushrooms, and mini tomatoes alongside a pistachio pesto sauce and fresh Mozzarella.
  • Lars Smith, a professional chef from Palo Alto, Calif., is the owner of State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria. His entry, Fire on the Mountain, relies on Queso Oaxaca and rich Mexican Crema to form a rich foundation for plant-based chorizo, Fresno peppers, and roasted cauliflower. Lars was also selected as a finalist in the Cal-Mex category.

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 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 more than 1,200 family dairy farms.

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.

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2020 Real California Pizza Contest Closes with Record Number of Contestants Across 24 States

The entry period for the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest closed on July 17th with a flurry of contestants entering signature pizza recipes. Here are several takeaways from the entry period:

  • A record number of entries were submitted for this year’s contest
  • Professional chefs and culinary students from a record 24 states entered a recipe, displaying the broad appreciation and application of California dairy among top pizza chefs throughout the nation
  • The REAL California category led the way with the most recipes submitted, showcasing the strong popularity and interest in California cuisine
  • All three of our innovative categories – Cal-Mex, the REAL California, and Plant-Forward – were well-represented with delicious recipes from award-winning pizza chefs

Our team is currently in the process of processing the entries. Throughout the next week, our judges will be reviewing the recipes, inspirations, and creative use of Real California Cheese in innovative ways. We expect to announce the 12 talented finalists during the first week of August.

Please visit https://pizzacontest.realcaliforniamilk.com in the coming weeks for more information about our finalists and further contest updates!

2 Days Left to Enter the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest!

Only two days remain to join the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest! The deadline to enter is THIS Friday, July 17th. Contestants from over a dozen states have already entered signature recipes that showcase the rich flavors of REAL California Cheese.

The 2020 Real California Pizza Contest features three innovative categories – Cal-Mex, the REAL California, and Plant-Forward. You are not limited to just one category – submit a recipe in all three to increase your odds of becoming a finalist!

12 selected finalists will earn $500 and the opportunity to compete in the live bake-off finale in Napa, CA on September 23rd and 24th at the beautiful Culinary Institute of American (CIA) at Copia. Category winners will take home $5,000 each, and the best overall pizza, judged by our panel of expert pizza chefs, will win the $10,000 Grand Prize.

With fame and fortune on the line, what are YOU waiting for? Enter the 2020 Real California Pizza Contest TODAY!

COVID-19 Safety Measures at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia

The 2020 Real California Pizza Contest is thrilled to return to the breath-taking Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, CA. This beautiful facility served as a perfect setting for the inaugural contest last May, as contestants were able to experience and utilize state-of-the-art kitchens to produce their winning pizzas.

The CIA at Copia is committed to providing a safe, enjoyable experience for all guests throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are several important precautions currently implemented to prioritize the health of all employees and guests:

Employee Requirements

  • Undergo safety training on disinfection, hygiene, and respiratory etiquette
  • Complete daily temperature checks and wear face coverings at all times while working
  • Wash and sanitize hands regularly, including upon entering the restaurant or kitchens and between interactions with customers

Common Spaces, Restaurants, and Kitchens

  • Operate at reduced capacity and implement social distancing
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between parties, including those seated
  • Seat no more than six people at a table
  • Sanitize common areas repeatedly throughout the day and place hand sanitizing stations throughout with clear directional signage

For more details on how the CIA at Copia will continue to provide guests with the experience of a lifetime through the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here to visit their website and view the guidelines.

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