New pizza ovens, plant-based ingredients dominate 2021 International Pizza Expo

Seattle-based Picnic showed off their Automated Pizza Assembly machine at the 2021 International Pizza Expo & Conference. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Las Vegas — The 2021 International Pizza Expo & Conference returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center last Tuesday through Thursday. The 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pizza. Sausage. Gelato. Cake. Those were just some of the foods attendees could sample.  The annual event also featured live cooking demos by celebrity chefs and experts in the pizza industry.

One of the new inventions that drew lots of eyeballs was an automated pizza making machine by a company called Picnic. A human must still place the raw dough on a metal pan. But the machine adds the pizza sauce, cheese, pepperonis and other toppings by itself. Then, a person must take the completed pizza and place it into the oven.

Eddy Foods brought their BBQ food to the Pizza Expo to encourage restaurants and bars to think outside the box!

“We have smoked pulled pork, sliced grilled sausage, and then diced smoke sausage,” said Chuck Godwin, regional sales manager for Eddy Packing Company, Inc. “We’re a smoked meat and sausage manufacturer out of Yoakum, Texas. Turkey legs is a huge part of our business. We have national distribution through all of the major suppliers. Our legacy foodprint is Texas but we have full coverage across the U.S.”

Violife introduced their plant-based cheeses that are 100 percent vegan.

“We are here at the show and showing off our products how amazing they are,” said Andy Reichgut, general manager of Violife. “We have a wide range of products beside our shredded (cheese) for pizza, cheddar, provolone slices, a whole range of Parmesan. We’re really the worlds leader in vegan cheese. You can get our retail packs all over the country at Whole Foods and Walmart. We are sampling our mozzarella cheese on a couple of different pizzas—one with a plant based sausage. We are sampling our flora cream which is the worlds first plant based cream that even performs better than dairy cream. It holds up it doesn’t break with you cook with it.” 

Ooni showed off their full line of at-home pizza ovens. It can cook a pizza in just under 2 minutes … wow!

“What we have here is our newest oven which is the Karu 16 multi-fuel pizza oven,” said Ed Choi, U.S. brand manager for Ooni. “Out of the box it’s ready to go cooking on wood or charcoal. You can also get an optional gas burner to cook on propane. It’s a beast of an oven… gets up to 950 degrees and it has a built in thermometer. It is a really great oven to cook pizzas, meats and other sorts of things on. If you’re doing a Neapolitan style it will be ready in 60-90 seconds. If you’re doing a New York style it might be a little longer with the temperature brought down a little bit.”

The California Milk Advisory Board had a huge display at the Pizza Expo showcasing some of the family owned businesses in the Golden state 

“We are so excited to be here, finally, in-person to see everybody,” said Cheryl Soares, manager of foodservice promo and trade shows for the California Milk Advisory Board. “It’s a good, safe show. We’ve done a lot of preparation to make sure everybody has a good, successful show and make everybody feeling safe and secure coming up and sampling all of our wonderful dairy farm families. We are made up of 1,300 dairy farm families in the state of California. They all pay into the California Milk Advisory Board to be able to differentiate their milk from other milk in the country.”

There was even a pretzel company at the Pizza Expo. Who would have thought?

General Mills asked attendees to vote on their favorite pizza crusts. A life-size Pillsbury Dough Boy also made an appearance too!

The Pizza Expo & Conference was a great success. We look forward to it’s return in 2022…

Video by Jason Rzucidlo / AmericaJR

Stay tuned for many more great photos…

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