Pizza Expo – 2024

I love tradeshows. And I love food tradeshows more than any other kind. Last week, I attended Pizza Expo for the very first time. Because pizza is my husband’s love language, he was ALL IN and had more fun than he ever thought possible at a tradeshow.

I attended lectures, workshops, and demos of all kinds, including a Trend discussion and a Q&A on tinkering with dough recipes to get exactly the results you want. I watched as local favorite Alex White of Yukon Pizza won Best Non-Traditional Pizza. The demo on the Chicago “tavern style” thin crust was illuminating. And I learned so much.

For years, all I ever wanted was a “New York” slice. It was hard to come by here in Vegas for many of our 26 years. Now we have some of the best pizza in the country! I have also broadened my horizons on what constitutes a “good” pizza. There are so many styles out there right now and I am learning to enjoy most of them. After watching a “New York” demo, I realized that MY favorite type of New York pizza isn’t the only type of New York pizza! The entire Expo for me was like a style workshop. Now I have a renewed interest in pizza, more about making it than eating it though. I feel like I must conquer the styles…Next style to try? Pizza al taglio.

We are volunteers for Slice Out Hunger (go to their site and get involved!) and we lent our hands to the the Pizza Tailgate event. As a thank you, we happily received an Ooni pizza oven. The Hubs nearly swooned. Of course, we put it to work right away, and I attempted a Detroit style pizza for the first time. It was delish! For those of you not in the know, a Detroit pizza is similar to a Sicilian, in that it is a pan style pizza, but it is generally MUCH smaller (think 8×10 or 10×14 instead of the entire sheet pan). The dough tends to be airier and lighter. Additionally, the toppings go all the way to the edges. The goal is to get a crispy lace of cheese all around the top outside edge. The Ooni made the process simple. The Lloyd pan (Made in the USA) I found at the show made the PERFECT crispy edge! Yes, the pan makes a big difference.

The most fun thing for me about these types of tradeshows is the vendors never want to pack up their product and ship it back, so they give a TON of stuff away on the final day. As we were walking by the Krinos booth, we heard, “Please take anything you’d like”. A little further down the aisle, a 2-pound wedge of Pecorino Romano and a 1.5 pound wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano were thrust into my hands. The fine folks at Ferndale Farmstead Cheese asked me to take a 3-pound bag of tiny cubes of mozz off their hands. And because we live where the Pizza Expo is…we can take a LOT home.

Using Tony G's recipe for Neapolitan crust in "The Pizza Bible" and the charcoal fired Ooni, we created this beauty.
Using Tony G’s recipe for Neapolitan crust in “The Pizza Bible” and the charcoal fired Ooni, we created this beauty.

When I attend a class, tradeshow, workshop or other learning experience, I get inspired! And my OCD and addictive tendencies kick in. I now have a fermentation station in the kitchen where I am testing out uses for sourdough discard in pizza dough, making poolish, biga, and other pre-ferments. Cookbooks are being scoured for the perfect dough recipes for me to try. The internet is being browsed for unconventional toppings – I am thinking Tikka Masala and Shawarma with feta or kashkaval right now… Needless to say, the Hubs is thrilled with my renewed interest in his favorite food. He has always said the pizza is his first love…

If you aren’t already following me on Instagram, check out the pics there as the discoveries unfold. And Subscribe (at the bottom of the page) to this blog while you’re at it so you never miss a spoonful.