2018 Real California Pizza Contest Logo

Do you have the pizza recipe to beat all pizza recipes? Delicious fresh toppings, a tasty crust, Real California Cheese? All it needs is your winning recipe! This is your chance to raise the bar on pizza innovation.

The California Milk Advisory Board is seeking America’s best professional chefs and most promising culinary students to create innovative new pizzas in three categories:

win up to $15,000


All Cheese

The REAL California

Judged by a panel of professional chefs and culinary experts, finalists will prepare their creations on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at the Culinary Institute of America Copia facility in Napa, California. We are looking for recipes that will excite taste buds and inspire menus … and showcase the best REAL California Cheeses. Each category winner will receive $5,000. The three category winners will be judged to determine the best overall pizza which will receive the Grand Prize of an additional $10,000.

We are looking for pizza perfection. The freshest, most delicious ingredients. An amazing selection from more than 250 varieties and styles of REAL California Cheese. And the most innovative, interesting and inspiring recipes!


The contest is open for recipe submissions Feb. 1 – March 25, 2019 from:

  • Professional restaurant and pizzeria pizza chefs from across the United States
  • Culinary students from accredited U.S.-based culinary schools


"Mexican-Style" contest category


A pizza recipe featuring Hispanic-style cheeses from California cheesemakers, including Asadero, Cotija, Cotija (Queso Anejo), Enchilado, Enchilado Anejo, Manchego, Menonita, Oaxaca, Panela, Queso Blanco Fresco (Queso Para Frier), Queso Fresco, and Requeson.

"All Cheese Pizza" contest category


A pizza recipe using three or more REAL California Cheeses – with more than 250 Real California Cheese varieties and styles to choose from.

"Real California Pizza" contest category


A pizza recipe representing your interpretation of “The REAL California” pizza. This signature California pizza will include ingredients that showcase the best of the Golden State including REAL California Cheeses, toppings and crust.

For a list of the more than 250 varieties and style of REAL California Cheese and the approved brands that produce them, as well as clarification on which Hispanic-style cheeses from California qualify for the Mexican-style pizza category, please refer to the California Cheesemaker list.

We recognize some of these cheeses may not be available in your location.  You are encouraged to enter the contest anyway, substituting the cheese you use in your development process for the cheese from this approved list in your official recipe entry. The California Milk Advisory Board will supply the specified approved cheeses from finalists’ recipes at the bake-off.

Entry Requirements

The contest is open for recipe submissions Feb. 1 – March 25, 2019 from:

  • Completed Entry Form
  • Pizza Name and Photo – the name of your pizza and a photo of the prepared and baked pizza – based on your recipe
  • Background/Inspiration – a 300-word (maximum) essay OR 2-minute (maximum) video describing personal/professional background and what inspired pizza recipe
  • Recipe – specific ingredients including brands and varieties of Real California Cheese; preparation and baking instructions

Review Real California Pizza Contest Official Rules for complete details.

pizza logo

Contest Structure

There will be three rounds to the Real California Pizza Contest:

Preliminary Round

All complete qualifying entries will be judged separately. Judging criteria:

  Name/Photo – 5%
  Background/Inspiration Essay or Video – 25%
  Recipe – 70% (30% flavor/20% texture/20% inventive use of Real California Cheese)

The top 50 scoring professional chef entries in each category will become semi-finalists. The top 30 scoring culinary students in each category will become semi-finalists.

Semi Final Round

The preliminary round winners will be judged separately. Judging criteria:

  Name/Photo – 5%
  Background/Inspiration Essay or Video – 25%
  Recipe – 70% (30% flavor/20% texture/20% inventive use of Real California Cheese)

The top three (3) scoring professional chef entries in each category will become finalists. The top one scoring culinary students in each category will become finalists.

Final Round

Twelve (12) finalists – three (3) professional chefs and one (1) culinary student in each category – will compete in the live bake-off final event at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia facility in Napa, California on Thursday, May 9, 2019. The professional chefs and culinary student in each category will compete on an equal basis. Judging criteria:

  Name/Photo – 5%
  Background/Inspiration Live Presentation– 25% (based on a combination of personal background, inspiration, speaking and presentation skills and charisma)
  Recipe – 70% (25% flavor/15% texture/15% inventive use of Real California Cheese/15% presentation or the look of the final baked pizza).

A single chef (professional or student) in each category will be selected as the Category Winner and the top scoring entry of the three category winners will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.

pizza logoPrizes

Three Category winners – $5,000 each
One Grand Prize winner: $10,000

Glenn Cybulski

Glenn Cybulski is an award-winning executive chef & certified pizzaiolo with over 100 national and international culinary awards in rustic Italian cuisine and American comfort food. He is widely regarded as one of the Top 10 pizzaiolos in the U.S. and has extensive public speaking, culinary writing, & restaurant consulting experience. Glenn is the co-founder of Chefs Feeding Kids, a non-profit organization focused on reducing childhood hunger across the U.S.

In addition to a seminar speaker and columnist for Pizza Today, Cybulski is also an instructor at the magazine’s School of Pizzeria Management. He is a frequent guest lecturer and a panelist at the International Pizza Expo.

Cybulski’s restaurant experience includes working with Terry Collins of Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza in 2006, where he designed the crust for the “Thin Crust DeLight” pizza. He has consulted on the Travel Channel’s show “Food Wars.” He was also the co-owner of Sonoma Naturals and executive chef at Fregenes Italian Pizzeria and has owned and operated several restaurant concepts over the years.

Scott Weiner

Mr. Weiner founded “Scott’s Pizza Tours” in 2008, which has led over 70,000 pizza lovers on tours of significant pizzerias across New York City. As an accomplished speaker, writer and educator, Scott is acknowledged as a leading resource in the pizza industry.

His “Man on the Street” column in Pizza Today has won several trade magazine awards and he has delivered lectures, moderated panels, emceed, and judged at pizza industry events in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York City, Orlando, Sao Paulo, and Parma.

Scott's expertise has been tapped for articles and segments in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, The Chew, Food Network, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Dr. Oz, and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. With such a unique pizza-focused career, Wiener was the focus of a full-length documentary called Scott’s Pizza Tours (available on Hulu and Amazon).

More recently, he hosts a show for Thrillist called Really Dough? in which he and master pizzaiolo Mark Iacono (Lucali in Brooklyn) explore the definition of the word “pizza” by trying bizarre variations of the dish. The show is currently shooting its second season and is available on both Amazon and YouTube.

Barbara Alexander


For 30+ years, Chef Barbara Alexander has worked as a professional executive chef, running pedigree hotel kitchens and Michelin level restaurants in Vancouver, Canada and Sydney, Australia.

Chef Barbara left the restaurant business to become a culinary educator with The Dubrulle French Culinary School in Vancouver, The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Napa Valley and a 16-year stint as culinary director at the lauded Napa Valley Cooking School. Currently, “Chef B” is a consultant chef for the Culinary Institute of America at Copia and authoring a new curriculum for the CIA in plant- forward cuisine. Chef Barbara holds degrees in English literature and journalism. She is a CEC-Certified Executive chef and a CHE-Certified hospitality educator from the American Culinary Federation.

An avid traveler, Chef Barbara is a partner in two culinary travel and tour operations, leading bespoke culinary adventures in the Napa Valley and worldwide. Chef B brings a humorous synergy of education, knowledge and experience to the table, peppered with stories of the professional kitchen, travel and an appreciation for an enriching cultural experience.

Mark Todd

Cheese Specialist, California Milk Advisory Board

Chef Mark Todd has worked in both the foodservice and retail sides of cheese promotion and education for more than two decades, conducting distributor, retail, foodservice and restaurant group seminars, developing cheese education materials and presenting at numerous trade show and special events in the U.S. and abroad. He has represented the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) at Pizza Expo for more than eight years.

He has traveled extensively promoting U.S. specialty and commodity cheeses for such groups as the CMAB, U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Contest Ends March 25th



Approved cheese varieties and brands (listed by brand and variety) within categories for Hispanic-Style and All Cheese/California)

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

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