Launching a pizzeria, you have to do tons of different things. It’s easy to forget that only one thing will matter in the end. You can rent the best location in town, come up with some smart IT solutions, and even use drones to make fast deliveries. But it won’t make any difference if your pizza tastes like a cheesy sock. Good taste is the ultimate goal. For the last few months, the Dodo Pizza team has been working hard to perfect our recipes and find the best ingredients. Of course, we wanted to make sure that this last element—our pizza’s taste—is done right.
So we’ve worked up the nerve to put our 12-inch sausage pizza to a live test and bring it to the 2nd Annual Southeast National Pizza Trials.
The trials take place in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s only a 5-hour drive from Oxford. So, this week, I hit the road. Chattanooga turned out to be a beautiful place.
Mellow Mushroom in downtown Chattanooga became the home for this two-day event. The first day is for non-traditional pizza trials. Since Dodo Pizza focuses on seven classic recipes, we decided to simply skip this part of the competition.
The winners of the non-traditional pies day. 1st prize went to Jason Samosky from Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria.
On the second day, the contestants presented their traditional pizzas. That’s where we saw an opportunity to show off our achievements and get some feedback from pizza experts.
My workplace for the day. Each competitor had one hour prep time and twenty minutes to bake and present a pie to the judges.
Our recipe for our 12-inch sausage pizza: sausages, mushrooms, marinara sauce, 50/50 mozzarella-provolone cheese blend. As simple as it sounds. Every pizza was evaluated based on five criteria: crust, base/sauce, toppings/ingredients, cheese, and overall creativity.
This is me presenting our traditional sausage pizza to the judges; it’s very similar to the one you’ll find on the menu of the Dodo Pizza store in Oxford. It didn’t win, though we got a pretty high score—41 points out of 50 (the winner got 48).
We received good scores for the crust, sauce, and toppings. But the cheese became an issue—we had to deal with a deck oven at Mellow Mushroom, but our cheese is intended for a conveyer oven, so it wasn’t perfect in the deck.
And the judges decided that we lack overall creativity (no hard feelings—our pizza was a basic one, and we do that on purpose). Frank Baird from Cleveland, Ohio even set his pizza on fire!
I did get some words of encouragement in lobby interviews, though. Many people told me that it could be a hit on the market if we bring our artisan pizza into the delivery business—nobody has done anything like that yet.
Gino Rago is presenting the winning traditional pizza to the judges.
Now Dodo Pizza’s name is in US pizza history.
Looking forward to competing next year. Now, back to work! Dodo Pizza Oxford’s grand opening is coming up.
Photos: kindly provided by PMQ Pizza Magazine’s crew.