Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Campania's Up and Coming Pizzaioli - Cooking For Art Napoli Awards the Best Pizza Maker 'Emergente' in Southern Italy


This past weekend,  a holiday weekend in Italy, was also a weekend to check out the up and coming chefs and pizza makers in southern and central Italy thanks to Luigi Cremona and Lorenza Vitali of Witaly.  They are the masterminds behind a series of events that year after year search out the young up and coming culinary stars of tomorrow.  The emergente as they say in Italian.  The chefs and also the pizzaioli/pizza makers that everyone will be talking about tomorrow.
I had a chance to attend this three day event and decided to focus on pizza, particularly those from Campania.  Six pizzaioli put in the spotlight to compete for the best in the south along with 5 other giovani from regions such as Basilicata, Calabria, Molise, and Sicily.

Pizza here is serious business, and Campania competed proudly with six new faces.  Well, maybe not so new.  These guys we've seen in some of the top pizzerias in the region.  These guys have held their own during hot and heavy Friday and Saturday nights when the lines are long and Neapolitans want their pizza just right.  So last weekend was a chance to put a name to the faces, try some pizza, and then decide who would represent Southern Italy as the Pizza Chef Emergente 2015.

The jury (which I was a part of on Saturday, round 1) had their work cut out for them. The pizzas would be judged in several categories.
On a scale on 1 to 5, visual factors such as the pizza dough, the shape, was it cooked well,and  the ingredients.
On a scale on 1 to 5, how did the pizza present itself aromatically?  Once again, factors such as the pizza dough and ingredients came into play.
The final category had to do with , of course, the taste.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how did the pizza taste?  Was it cooked well enough? Once again the pizza dough, the ingredients, and the overall impression.

A dream location, with the bay of Naples in the background, a hot late spring breeze on a Saturday afternoon competed with the excitement  and the nervous anticipation of the Campania Six as  they took their turn to show what they had.  Sixty seconds is the average time that it takes to cook a Neapolitan pizza.  Sixty seconds that could make or break hours of hard work and preparation. Sixty seconds started with pizzaiolo number one, Fabio Cozzolino of Pizzeria 50 Kalo' in Naples.


Cozzolino, like each pizza maker in round one had to present two pizzas - a classic pizza margherita, and a creative pizza which showcased their creativity and sensitivity to pairing quality ingredients.


After his  pizza margherita  he presented a  pizza with artichokes, fior di latte and capocollo di martina franca.


2nd at bat was Francesco (Kekko) Genovesi of Pizzeria Gaetano Genovesi .

 He also presented a margherita, but his second pizza had a crust stuffed with ricotta and featured fresh cherry tomatoes.




The third pizzaiolo from Campania at Cooking For Art Napoli was Angelo Rumolo from Grotto Pizzeria Castello. besides his margherita, he presented a pizza in which the dough was colored with vegetable charcoal, then topped with potatoes, cheese, pancetta and truffles.





Here is number 4... Claudio Spica of Pizzeria la Dea Bendata Pozzuoli.

 He presented his margherita and then a calzone stuffed with ricotta, fior di late, broccoli greens, and mint.




Two quick shots by Campania's 5th pizza make. Roberto Luongo's margherita and a slice of his bianco with sausage, mushrooms, and provola cheese.


Campania closed their round  with pizza maker Alessandro Izzo of Palazzo Petrucci. After his margherita, he presented his marinara with anchovies and capers. 




At the end of round one - the jury chose 2 pizza makers to represent Campania in the final round on Sunday.  Fabio Cozzolino and Alessandro Izzo.
So a day of rest for Cozzzolino and Izzo before they had to step up the game for round two.  This time competing with the best chosen from Basilicata, Molise and Siciliy.  They had to come back strong with two different pizzas.  First a marinara which, despite its simple ingredients, is probably one of the toughest pizzas to make come si deve...to make well.  Tomato sauce, oregano, garlic - and for some - fresh basil.
Once again, Fabio Cozzolino went first with his aromatic marinara with a San Marzano tomato sauce, oregano, garlic and fresh basil. his second pizza was one that he's been working on for awhile. a margherita with copper colored onions from Montoro, parmigiano reggiano cheese, basil, and extra virgin olive oil from Don Alfonso 1890.





Then, Alessandro Izzo, a young pizzaiolo who non si scherza...first a quick smile then he got down to business... a marinara then a soon to hit the menu  pizza with fior di latte, cherry tomatoes, salicornia (sea asparagus), sea urchin sauce and lemon zest.






There were several other pizza makers who competed in the finals, but in the end - 50 Kalo's Fabio Cozzolino was awarded the best in the South.  He will compete again later this year against pizza makers frm all over Italy for the best in Italia.

Forza Campania!

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