Emilio’s operations manager Aaron Gehrman recently returned from an international pizza competition, where he placed third. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock pizza shop finishes third in international competition

Emilio Finatti Sicilian Pizzeria offered judges a mushroom and bacon variant

Pizza loyalists may never come to an agreement over which shop offers the best slice of pie in the city, but White Rock’s Emilio Finatti Sicilian Pizzeria has recently received an international nod that may further the debate.

Emilio’s finished in third place at the International Pizza Expo, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in early March.

The competition, held annually since 2007, features five divisions and draws more than 200 pizzerias from across the globe.

Competitors are tasked with baking a pizza at the competition and present it to a panel of judges.

Emilio’s operations manager Aaron Gehrman, who competed in the traditional category, presented a smoked apple-wood bacon pizza, including king oyster mushroom and a medley mushroom sauteed in citrus, white wine, tarragon and apricot.

“What I find a real challenge with the traditional competition is that you’re so restricted for ingredients. You can only use two toppings,” Gehrman told Peace Arch News Wednesday. “You can use a varietal of the same toppings, that’s why I did a medley mushroom. It really comes down to flavour profile, consistency, how the pizza holds together and the crust.”

Gehrman said the competition is done by blind judging.

“For the pan pizza division, they had to swap the judges out halfway through, or even twice, because in previous years they’ve had judges complain that they can’t sleep,” Gehrman said.

Gehrman said that competitors are allowed to use their choice of oven. However, Gehram’s oven of choice, the WP Matador, wasn’t available because “it got stuck on a boat from Germany and wasn’t able to make it to the competition.”

“I had to work on a different oven, but even with the curveball, it was amazing, very happy to place this year.”

Gehrman said he received “amazing support” from the Canadian Food and Restaurant Association president Donald Gyurkovits, who through connections, was able to connect Gehrman with a kitchen and produce supplier so he could tweak his recipe in Las Vegas.

“It was so heartwarming, I get goosebumps just talking about it.”

Gehrman has been entering the competition for a number of years, and placed first in the traditional category in 2015.

Although the award-winning pizza isn’t a regular item on Emilio’s menu, Gehrman said he intends to introduce the bacon and mushroom variant as a specialty evening feature April 6.

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