Last Tuesday, June 9, bloggers and guests were invited to witness the finale of California Pizza Kitchen’s first-ever Pizza Chef Competition, the Pizza Wars. Three Chefs were competing using their original pizza recipes, for a chance to win 25,000 pesos. Aside from the cash reward, the winning pizza will be included in CPK’s Annual celebration of National Pizza Day in August and also, it will be added in CPK’s menu which is scheduled to be rolled out last quarter of this year.
Pizza Wars is CPK’s new adventure, designed to inspire CPK’s in-house chefs to be more passionate and creative with their craft. The competition, started off with a store level elimination wherein each store selected one representative for the semi-finals. From the ten entries, top 3 chefs and original recipes were chosen to move to the finals. The finalists were Romel Panaligan (CPK Alabang), Leah Castillones (CPK Eastwood), and John Chloe Oplejeda (CPK Trinoma).
THE CHEFS AND THEIR ORIGINAL RECIPES
I couldn’t quite place my finger on it but there was something about Chef Leah Castillones’s pizza, the Steak with Mushroom + Truffle Pizza. It tasted so familiar. She used Truffle sauce as the base and topped with Mozzarella, Fresh Mozzarella, wild mushroom, and the delicious grilled steak.
I’m impressed with Chef Romel Panaligan’s pizza, The Farmer’s Choice. It was actually my personal choice when we were given a chance to vote. I love the idea of a vegetarian pizza with a twist, and he did an amazing job with it. He used roasted squash as the base topped with Mozzarella, Fresh Mozzarella, grilled eggplant and zucchini, cherry tomatoes and desiccated coconut. It looked incredible, with vibrant colors and a stack of different textures and shapes. The pizza actually smells like “Bukayo” – it makes the pizza more appetizing.
Chef John Chloe Oplejeda’s pizza, The Elvis Pizza, was a dessert pizza inspired by the King of Rock & Roll’s favorite sandwich. He used peanut sauce as the base topped with Mozzarella, crispy bacon, banana topped with candied walnuts and peanut butter gelato. This one tasted as good as it looked, but less bacon would make it taste better, I guess.
AND THE WINNER IS
During the competition, each chef was judged on their creativity, execution, taste, appearance and marketability of their creation. The three of them were already winners, but it was Chef Romel Panaligan’s The Farmer’s Choice pizza that wowed the judges (Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Griffith Go, CFO of GRCI and celebrity chef, Mr. Rolando Laudico). Chef Romel Panaligan from CPK Alabang Town Center went home with the title and received P25,000 cash.
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