I was surrounded by men and women in white coats. They vied for my attention. Eventually I accepted their offers, over and over.
Last Tuesday, I was attending the International Pizza Expo, “the largest pizza show in the world”. Lots of chefs and cooks in white coats were part of the action offering samples of their products.
International Pizza Expo is a project of Pizza Today magazine and Emerald Expositions. The expo, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is a business-to-business event for owners and managers of independent and chain pizza restaurants. Sadly for pizza fans, the general public is not invited.
I have attended this event in the past, but I still have things to learn. For example, I didn’t know one can buy a condiment that is olives coated in chocolate. One can make pizza dough with ingredients such as hemp and cauliflower. Vegans can order a pizza that has no meat, but has a meaty taste with ingredients made to taste like meat.
I fell in love with a table-top pizza oven unit called “Pizzarette”, a product popular in Europe and about a year-old in North America. A gathering of friends or family build their own mini-pizzas and cook them in the oven, ideally amid laughter and conversation. Storing the large unit could be a problem, however.
For some reason, I never before realized how long pizza dough must rise before usage. At the Pinsa Romano booth, I tried dough made with their special flour, no lard, lots of water and a hint of olive oil. However this dough requires 48 to 72 hours of time for the dough to rise properly.
The expo featured a variety of pizza-related products other than pizza dough itself. The aisles included delivery vehicles, pizza boxes, pizza presses, condiments, spices, sauces, mascots, ovens, mixers, bakeware, cheeses, meats, products to include other than pizza, etc. More than 500 different exhibitors appeared at the show.
In addition, expert chefs offered insights on pizza making. Contests included a Pizza Challenge (bake-offs with judges) and World Pizza Games (skills competition). Evening tours of local pizza establishments Pizza Rock and Metro Pizza were offered as were workshops in what is called the “School of Pizzeria Management”. Attendees could win prizes for visiting certain exhibitors. After hours, attendees were invited to socialize and talk business.
Pizza restaurant industry revenues are estimated to be $43 billion annually.