March 23rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 12
Local chef’s Thai creation places well at pizza competition
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald contributor photo
John Warlow holding a Thai Delight pizza fresh out of the oven at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
Pass Herald Reporter
As thousands of the world’s most fanatical pizza people gathered earlier this month, a local man pitted his pie against some of the world’s best and managed to slice up the competition.

John Warlow, owner of the Black Rock Pizzeria and Bakery in Blairmore, competed at the 32nd annual International Pizza Expo, which was held March 6 to 10 in Las Vegas. The expo, which bills itself as the largest in the industry, featured the International Pizza Challenge, which organizers claim to be the largest such competition in the U.S.

Warlow, and 60 other pizza makers competed in the contest’s non-traditional division. He entered a pizza called the Thai Delight, a regular menu item at Black Rock. He placed 16th in the division and fourth in the International category.

“I met some fascinating people,” said Warlow. “Chefs from around the world. It was a lot of fun and it was a good learning experience.”

Thai Delight starts with a peanut sauce base and then green peppers, red onions, chicken, mushrooms, a blend of mozzarella and old cheddar and pineapple. It’s topped off with sweet chili sauce, cilantro, green onion and crushed peanuts once it comes out of the oven.
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“We felt that it was important for us to use a menu pizza,” said Warlow. “That was of huge importance.”

Warlow flew down to Vegas along with his frozen peanut sauce and dough ingredients including his own personal yeast, which he said gives the crust a more fermented flavour. He cut up his vegetables, made his dough and showed up early in the morning at the Las Vegas Convention Center for an intense session of pizza making.

He baked his pie on the spot in front of about 200 spectators and presented it to a panel of judges composed of chefs, food critics and others from the pizzeria industry who scored each pie on their crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, overall taste, creativity and visual presentation.
He then took the opportunity to taste the competition.

“And at that point I was extremely intimidated,” he said.

Some of the other chefs were professional pizza competitors whose coat’s proclaimed their sponsors and all the places they had competed.
In the no-holds-barred non-traditional division, there was no limit to the quality or quantity of ingredients. He met a gentleman who used pure buffalo milk to make the cheese for his pie. Some chefs topped their pizzas with truffles, blue crab and lobster. Another gentleman used lobster bisque with a broccoli reduction for pizza sauce.
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“I felt that I was going to place in the bottom ten,” said Warlow. “It was a nice surprise to see us score so high.”

The placing has wetted his appetite for pizza competition and he and his wife Erica, also a chef at Black Rock, plan on returning next year.

“We’re both going to compete,” he said. “We’re going to bring Thai Delight a second time but we’re going to tweak the recipe to give it more flash. We really want to place with a menu item.”

The expo is a leading trade show for the pizza industry. This year it attracted about 7000 attendees and 3000 exhibitors. In addition to placing well, Warlow said he learned a lot about the pizza business, put $50 on black and won, tried bluefin tuna and of course ate lots and lots of pizza.

“I’ll bet you I put on ten pounds,” he said.
March 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 12
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