California Milk Advisory Board launches pizza contest

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The pizza contest has three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward. Pic: Getty Images/Monty Rakusen
The pizza contest has three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward. Pic: Getty Images/Monty Rakusen

Related tags Pizza Milk California Dairy

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has announced the launch of the 2021 Real California Pizza Contest, its third search for the best pizza recipes using California cheese.

The contest, which will award prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open for entries by professional chefs and culinary students in the US.

Through September 9, participants can enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward.

Cal-Mex means recipes fusing flavors from California and Mexican cuisines, featuring Hispanic-style cheeses. The REAL California will incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes will emphasize the combinations of fruits, veggies and California cheese.

This year’s contest introduces a new format to include ideas from chefs beyond the US. Winners of separate Real California Pizza contests in China, South Korea, and Mexico will be invited to compete in a semi-final cook off for a chance to win a spot in the final US cook off. These international chefs will compete in the same categories – Cal-Mex, Plant-Forward, and the REAL California.

“As the largest producer of Mozzarella and the second largest cheese producing state, pizza is an important foodservice category for California dairy,” said Bob Carroll, VP of business development for the CMAB.

“Expanding the contest to include international pizza chefs and operators reflects on the growth of the international market for pizza and includes countries where California cheeses and dairy products are available to culinary professionals. We find tremendous inspiration in the creativity culinary professionals bring to their pizza creations and look forward to new ideas from our US chefs and those beyond our borders.”

Chefs looking to submit a recipe can review the requirements and complete the entry at​. In addition to the recipe, contestants are asked to submit a short essay or video describing their personal and professional inspiration for their pizza creation.  The deadline for contest submissions is September 9, 2021.

Twelve US finalists will be selected by a professional panel of judges to compete in a bake off on October 27, 2021, at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif. The international contingent of chef finalists will compete on October 26, with the winner joining the final bake off on the 27. All finalists will win a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000 each, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Competitors can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal. A list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers can also be found at the entry website.

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