Has it really been a full week? Then how am I still in a food coma from the mere 36 hours I spent in Vegas at the International Pizza Expo?
This was my first year wandering the cavernous Convention Center, which houses virtually every single facet of the pizza industry under a single roof, as I tried (and failed) to dodge atrocious free samples.*
*I appreciated the warning, Scott.
The bulk of the Expo is surely more about raising profits than striving for pizza excellence, but that doesn't mean there weren't plenty of quality products and innovation on display. Also: pre-made crusts that will last for decades in your end-of-the-world bunker.
I took plenty of photos—you can get a good feel for the show in the massive slideshow above—but the trends I noticed were gluten-free crusts, some of which did not even taste like death; dough presses for the discerning fast-casual pizza fan who prefers tortilla to cornicione; and enough point of sale systems to make me nervous about the impending arrival of Skynet. Expo attendees and veterans can let me know what I missed in the comments.
I don't want to give you a Hallmark card about how "it's really the people that make the convention," but...it's really the people that make the convention. Pizza people are notoriously kind and exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge. And where else can you pick Jeff Varasano's brain on the mysteries of business expansion (and Rubik's cubes)? Or get rock solid pizza recommendations for literally any place on the planet directly from the Tourmaster himself, Scott Weiner? Or spend an hour going deep on the meaning of pie with pizza spiritualists like Spacca Napoli's Jonathan Goldsmith or Metro Pizza's John Arena? Hell, I even got to talk TV with the great Paulie Gee (he recommends catching up on HBO's unfortunately cancelled "Enlightened").
If you truly love pizza, the only thing better than eating it is talking about it with your fellow tribemates. Okay, maybe talking about pizza with your tribemates while also eating it is better, but don't worry, either way the Expo has you covered.