At the National Pizza Awards on 7 November 2019, 16 of the UK’s top pizzaiolos cooked in LLK’s Cuppone Donatello oven for a panel of judges at Islington Metal Works in London.
At the grand final’s live cook off, each contestant was required to undertake a ‘Technical Pizza Round’, in which they prepared a pizza using gluten free dough supplied by sponsor Pan Artisan and toppings supplied by sponsors Salvo 1968 and Tabasco.
They then completed a ‘Signature Round’ in which they present the pizza they feel best ‘proves’ their potential. Their dishes were then sent to a private room where they were analysed by a panel of experienced judges, including LLK’s development chef, Fabio Aurelio.
As the official oven sponsor of the event, LLK provided two of its Cuppone Donatello ovens for the contestants to cook their creations in. This oven was chosen for the job as it is said to be highly controllable; the contestants were able to control the temperature of both the top and bottom deck heating elements to their personal optimum temperatures in order to produce a result in their individual style.
Its operation is said to have kept the playing field even for the finalists and its energy saving heat regeneration system was claimed to have kept this oven in peak performance for the full event with no power wasted.
Following his heat, Salah Haidar of Saint Vegan Pizza described the Cuppone Donatello oven’s performance as: “So so so nice. The pizza came out bubbly and puffy. I am used to using a wood fired oven, but this electric oven is quite easy to operate especially during busy periods. You could put the top heating element temperature up or put it down so it’s easy to manage. If a pizzaiolo is new or doesn’t have much experience this oven would make it easy for him. I really love this oven.”
The contestants and guests reconvened at the venue that evening to mingle before discovering the winners. The festivities were fuelled by pizza prepared by LLK’s Aurelio, using their fellow sponsors’ ingredients: Pan’Artisan’s dough, Banhoek Chilli Oils, Salvo’s toppings cooked in LLK’s new Baby Cuppone Giotto pizza oven (coming to the market in summer 2020).
Brigitte Stamber of Brighton based pizzeria Pizzaface secured ‘Pizza of the Year’, making her the first female to win an award at the National Pizza Awards. Stamber’s winning pie was featured slices of thin-cut wild boar salami, mascarpone cheese, homemade caramelised onions and s dried chillies.
Ilias Kazantzidis of the Foundry Project’s Manchester site (an end user of LLK which uses the Cuppone Giotto oven) won the ‘Technical Round’. Davide Parato of London’s Crust Bro’s Pizza took home the title of ‘Pizza Chef of the Year’ as well as the £1,000 prize.
Will Pilling, technical director at LLK, said: “Sponsoring the National Pizza Awards is an invaluable opportunity for us to meet people from all over the UK who love the iconic Italian dish as much as we do and exchange wisdom on the art of pizza.
“It makes us very proud to see our Cuppone Donatello oven prove its ability to power pizzaiolos to national recognition and team LLK want to offer a huge congratulations the winners as well as every pizzaiolo who took part and proved they are some of the best in the business.”