Local restaurant owner celebrating victory at world’s largest pizza-making competition
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REXBURG – Bill and Cheryl Crawford, who own and operate Righteous Slice in Rexburg, traveled to Parma, Italy last week where Bill participated in the world’s largest pizza-making competition and finished first among all American participants in the classic division.
Out of more than 400 competitors, he placed 100th overall. Bill says he’s pleased with the outcome after spending “months of focused effort” preparing for the event.
“I went back to the basics of dough making techniques, flavor combinations, and baking processes. I worked with a chef to come up with some really unique flavor profiles that would also be visually stunning,” Crawford says in a news release.
The World Pizza Championships are held in Italy every April and date back to 1991. The competition includes every imaginable style of pizza, from the traditional Pizza Napoletana to pan pizzas, as well as pizza acrobatics. More than 600 of the most talented pizza makers in the world participated this year.
The morning of the competition, Bill decided to scrap all of the creative ideas and serve a simple sausage and leek pizza.
“I realized I wasn’t going to impress anyone with my creativity. There were so many outstanding creative ideas, so in the end I made a simple pizza that I would enjoy eating and that I hoped the judges would like,” Crawford explains.
The Crawfords also received another unexpected surprise a couple of weeks before the competition. Laura Meyer and 13-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani contacted them to offer their support. Meyer was the first American and first woman to win a title in the Parma competition. Gemignani, president of the World Pizza Champions, is a master instructor at the International School of Pizza, two-time Food Network gold medalist, restaurateur of 30 concepts, author and reality TV personality.
“The World Pizza champions were so supportive of our first trip to Parma,” says Cheryl. “Even though we were not on the team, they treated us like we were. They helped us with our shopping and preparation, and even had an interpreter to help us speak with the judges. Without them, we would have been lost.”
The Crawfords founded Righteous Slice as a mobile wood-fired pizzeria in Rexburg in 2013 after Bill attended Gemignani’s school. Cheryl recently graduated from the same school, where she studied American styles of pizza.
The Crawfords are planning to add the award-winning pizzas to their menu in the near future.
Righteous Slice is at 175 West 200 South, Ste. 100 in Rexburg. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a 10 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday.