Since its inception in 2007, the International Pizza Challenge™ has evolved and grown in stature and prize money to become the best pizza-making competition in North America.
There are now five divisions in the pizza bake-off attracting approximately 200 pizzaioli. They bake a pie from their pizza menu on the spot at Pizza Expo and present it to a panel of judges, with cash prizes and plaques going to the winners. The five divisions include Traditional, Non-Traditional, Pan, Pizza Napoletana and Gluten-Free. Challengers came from Italy, France, Korean and Centerville, Ohio!
Yes, you read that right, Rob Benson, owner of Centerville Pizza and BBQ, also known as Pizza Benny, represented the midwest as one of 60 entrants in the non-traditional pizza category. Rob rocked the Midwest Challenge during the the Columbus Pizza show, which won him entry into the International Challenge, two round trip airlines tickets, hotel room, and $500.
With the help of sponsors like The Vue Lounge,
B-Man from WTUE and Deuce Shirts, Benson headed to Las Vegas the last week of March to go dough to dough against 59 competitors with his original Shrimp Jambalaya Pizza.
Judging panels were composed of impartial chefs, food critics and others from the pizzeria industry, and they score each pie using the following criteria:
Taste was scored on:
- Sauce, Cheese, Toppings
- Overall Taste
- Creativity (Non-Traditional and American-Pan divisions only)
Visual Presentation / Appearance was scored on:
- Visual Presentation
While Ron did not advance to the finals, placing 3rd in the regional was pretty impressive and making it to the Super Bowl of pizza is a great claim to fame for this Centerville pizza joint that’s only been around sine June of 2010. He says “it was an honor to represent small, independent pizzeria’s and Dayton and it was a privilege to stand next to world champions.” He also was quick to thank everyone for their support.
The winner in the Non-Traditional category was Brian Hall from Tony Boombozz Pizzeria in Louisville, KY.
You can make your own judgements by tasting Benson’s pizza at 9470 Dayton-Lebanon Pike just across from the Kroger in Centerville. He’s still busy creating non-traditional recipes, like this month’s special:
Cinco de Mayo Pizza
Queso Cheese Sauce, Mozz/Provo/Cheddar Cheese, Chorizo Sausage, Onion, Black Olive and Diced Tomato. Finished with fresh chopped Cilantro!