In June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, Chef Raffaele Esposito baked three different pizzas.
The first was garnished with red tomatoes, the second was white with mozzarella cheese and the third was garnished green with basil. Together the three pizzas represented the colours of the Italian flag.
The Queen Margherita liked this idea, and so was born “pizza margherita”.
The Fonterra Global Pizza Challenge was founded more than a decade ago by chef Glenn Austin in partnership with a dairy manufacturer encumbered with an excess of cheese.
2012 saw Simon Best claim the winning title of the Global Pizza Challenge.
Best made a mooloolaba yellow fin tuna seared with black sesame seeds on a pizza base infused with krio krush black & white sesame seeds & blended nori roll, topped with italian mozzarella, avocado, mango salsa and pickled ginger.
“Simon’s pizza of 2012 demonstrates how a few ingredients can pack a fantastic taste experience; this pizza provides a high quality dining experience," Austin says.
Since then, pizza has become the fastest growing global food trend, evidenced in 2009 when a major UK pizza chain proved that pizza is recession proof by boasting a 25 percent growth that year.
“People love to eat pizza. It is easily accessible, as well as affordable. I love pizza as it has provided me the opportunity to get back to cooking basics,” Austin says. “I could see a clear, emerging trend in the pizza industry and we wanted to launch a prize that would promote and encourage culinary innovation with the world’s favourite food."
“Every year I am impressed with a new range of cutting edge ideas,” Austin says. “Which is why we’re excited to announce that this year the competition will be on again, and we’ll be launching new categories for ‘Large Pizza Chain’ and for ‘Pasta’.”
Austin says that “competitors are judged by an internationally recognised panel of chefs on their originality, balance, creativity and excitement factor.”
This year’s competition will see entrants trying to break the traditional mould of pizza.
John Lanzafame, former executive chef for Hugo's Management and a competitor in this year’s challenge, says he’s going to going to get creative about his pizza.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that everyone always does round. This year I’m going to break that convention," Lanzafame says.