We’re looking at the latest innovative trends from the Pizza Expo 2023 in Las Vegas, such as the unique bone marrow pizza that attracted a record crowd. Use these fresh and creative ideas to inspire your UK menus.
Each year, hundreds of chefs, caterers and pizza fans come together for one of the world’s biggest Pizza Expos, in Las Vegas. And this year was no different. At the end of March 2023, the International Pizza Expo saw the largest number of enthusiasts in 40 years enjoy three days of everything pizza, from tasting contests to competitions and demonstrations.
The Pizza World Championships certainly got people talking, especially the not-so-traditional recipes, which showcased innovative creations like bone marrow pizza. So, let’s take a look at the hottest trends we saw at the delicious pizza extravaganza and see if we can bring some of them back to the UK and onto our menus!
Highlights of Pizza Expo 2023
- The largest number of pizza enthusiasts in 40 years
- Three days of pizza-related trade show events
- Tasting contests, competitions, and demonstrations
- Innovative creations, including bone marrow pizza
The Pizza Expo World Champ
Janet Zapata, the owner of Laredo’s 550 Pizzeria, was crowned the Pizza Expo World Champion for her innovative Chori-Queso Pizza, a combination of chicken with tomato sauce, chorizo, Roma tomatoes, onions and coriander. Zapata embodied Mexican flavours in this stand-out creation.
Non-Traditional Pizza Expo World Champ
This is the highlight of the show, with 90 top competitors hailing from different parts of the world. Some of the top creations came from Joe Carlucci, owner of Valentine’s Pizzeria + Wine Bar, with his mango mascarpone base, with brick cheese, lobster, crab, burrata, mango chutney, garlic butter, lemon juice and parsley; Sarah Boyer from Iron Born Pizza, with her Detroit style pizza, topped with mushrooms, bacon and parmesan crisps; Michael Vakeen from Truly Pizza, with quail, green chillies, poblano rajas, local chiltepin spiced Dos Manos Apiaries honey, queso fresco & flor di latte, achiote and chipotle crema.
Detroit-Style Pizza For The Win
One of the most popular styles of pizzas at the Expo was the Detroit-style pizza, with cloud-like dough, crispy cheese crust, and (mostly) the distinctive rectangular shape – although some chefs also made them in a round style.
Some of the best Detroit pizza creations came from The Edge Thick Square Pizza, with its honey, garlic, sriracha chicken pizza; Eddie Staleski with his Poolish dough pizza, sesame seed bottom, frico crust, cheddar, provolone, mild sausage with tomato sauce, basil pesto, goats cheese, peppadew peppers, garlic oil and pepperoni roses.
Baked Then Fried
One of the biggest trends to stand out at the Expo was the ‘baked then fried’ trend, where pizza bases are baked or steamed first, then deep fried, before being topped and flashed in the oven. The result is a super crispy, light dough, which is more like a flatbread.
Francesco Martucci, from Italy, caught people’s eyes with his fried base, topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, oregano, garlic and anchovies. As did Casa Pizzeria, with The Montanara, their name for the deep-fried pizza base, which is then topped with a variety of ingredients.
Bottomless Pizza? We’re in! Slice Out Hunger, a food insecurity charity in America, hosted a pizza party with 20+ pizza makers all making a constant flow of pizzas, all using Ooni ovens to cook them. Guests paid $45 for unlimited pizza and the proceeds went towards the charity’s relief efforts.
If you have a pizza oven in your restaurant, unlimited pizza can be a great way to excite customers and get new ones through the doors. Perfectly timed with summer coming too, there’s little better than a pub garden and unlimited pizza…
Movers & Shakers
Proceeding the Pizza Expo was an awards ceremony, with 100 people commended for ‘moving and shaking’ up the industry. Amongst the 100, the stand out winners were: Azzip Pizza, top menu innovator with creative limited-time offerings and a Pizza of the Month Club; Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, top tech innovator with AI-generated voice ordering system; Marco’s Pizza, the top growth brand, achieving $1 billion in sales and launching the Marco’s Pizza Foundation to empower franchisees and team members; Slice House by Tony Gemignani, the top emerging brand, focusing on New York-style thin-crust pizza with 50 units in operation or development in its first year; Wizard of ZA, was recognised for having waitlists stretching over several months to taste their pepperoni Detroit Pizza, and crowned one of the ‘Top 10 Emerging Brands’ in the country.
Get Stuck In
People enjoy experiences, and whether that’s being a guest at your restaurant or taking part in an event, at the end of the day, it’s the experience they’ll remember the most. The Pizza Expo had plenty of opportunities for guests to get stuck in with a selection of masterclasses. World-class pizza chefs like Tony Gemignani and Massimiliano showed off their pizzas and guided attendees through the steps with a cooking class.
Whether it’s a pizza-making class or something else, take the customer experience to the next level and think about how you could host a ‘hands-on’ exhibitor workshop experience for your customers.
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