Whatever Happens In Vegas...
This pie at the Caputo Flour booth was pretty much the only pizza they put out that I didn't try to get a piece of. This was also the only remotely romantic thing I saw in the state of Nevada.
Let The Games Begin
The New Caputo
Caputo quietly introduced two new flours to the American market, developed specifically for pizza al metro, foccacia, and pizza bianca. Caputo Violet retains more water and provides more elasticity than their other 00 doughs. "Criscito" is a flour-made yeast that you mix in with Violet to add flavor.
Antimo Caputo (suit) is appears to be slightly more excited about it than rock star pizzaiolo Antonio Starita (middle).
Welcome To The Pizzadome
Choose Your Side
This double-sided Marana Forni looks incredible and provides oven access on both sides, but the pizzaiolos I spoke to about it were unsure about its necessity in a restaurant. Do any reader/operators think this would be helpful for them?
Cutting Out The Middleman
Yeah, those are the sign-waving robot mannequins. And yeah, I've been having some nightmares.
How Would You Like Your Vegetables Prepared?
This Fruvemex booth is pretty indicative of the many businesses promising a longer shelf life for ingredients. I personally love the word "dehydrofrozen," I'm just not sure if it's what I want done to my food.
You Can Find Me in the Club?
So. Here we have models in tank tops serving pizza and wings while a DJ performs. Las Vegas = class. There actually weren't that many "booth babes" at the show, but when companies wanted to grab some eyeballs with slightly uncomfortable sex appeal, they really committed.
The Business Side
The Coolest Thing I Saw
The Sauce Boss
Building A Better Box
Those white plastic "pizza savers" are so 2012. Not only can this pizza box support made by Perfect Fit withstand 20 pounds of pressure, it keeps your pizza in place if the box flips over. No word on what happens to the cheese.
Some booths give out samples to get you to try their product. Stanislaus Food Products decided to open a friggin' restaurant.
Your Pizza is Ready
I'm not sure these pagers made by LRS are any more useful than the coasters we're used to, but they're a lot more festive.
Can I Have Your Attention?
Cheeseguys Brian Argersinger and Rodney Butcher show you the key to networking. And being memorable.
The San Felice Flour booth was stacked with talented pizzaioli imported directly from Italy. Because I saw this exact scene repeated no less than six times, I now believe that Italians love group photos more than pizza.
Mushroom supplier Market Fresh Farms is convinced that you can't tell the difference between 2-day-old creminis and their 11-day-olds. They were very nice so I don't doubt them, but I didn't take them up on the offer to sample.
DIY Pizza Boxes
I would imagine that printing your own pizza boxes would be cost prohibitive, but I came by the Xante Excelagraphix booth a half-dozen times and they were always with a customer, so maybe it's cheaper than I think.
A Pressing Matter
Greetings From Meat Island
Not all samples are created equal. These bacon slices from Zoe's Meats were easily the tastiest non-pizza item at the show.
The Man Himself
Master and Apprentice
Akinari "Pasquale" Makishima, the reigning king of Japanese Neapolitan, makes dough alongside one of his mentors, the celebrated Adolfo Marletta.
This 900-pound Hobart mixer might just be one-off painted for the Expo, but if the company wanted to grab my attention, mission accomplished.
By Any Means Necessary?
Pie Signs eschewed the samples, went the "attractive woman in shiny dress" route, and upped the ante with vice by throwing in some gambling. Well played, Pie Signs. Well played.
How'd They Get That On The Plane?
The Man From Napoli
Spacca Napoli's Jonathan Goldsmith is in my pantheon for nicest guys I've ever met. And as if that wasn't enough, he made a very mean pie at the Caputo booth.
Gluten-Free, Not Taste-Free
I'm sure you've seen more appetizing pies, but this ancient grain pizza from Smart Flour Foods wasn't just the best tasting gluten-free crust I had at the show, it was actually edible.
John Morrell Food Service impressively went full deli, but the bacon sign seems even more crass than the scantily clad women (though it was definitely more effective in my case).
In The Mix
A Legend At Work
The maestro, Antonio Starita, domes a pie at the Caputo booth. I'm not sure how many folks strolling by and grabbing a slice knew that a pizza icon made their pie.
This monstrosity from AM Manufacturing can press 4,800 pizza crusts an hour. From mom & pop shop to commercial pizza factory, the Expo literally has something for everyone.
What to do if you can't decide between pizza and Mexican? You do both, I guess(?). Del Real Foods served up pollo asada, carnitas, al pastor, and chipotle chicken tinga pizzas.
The Lone Wolves
There were a surprising amount of companies that had a monopoly on their specific products. Optiva was the only vendor touting pizzeria staples like neon signs (though as you can see they aren't even neon).
There were four different companies offering insurance for pizzerias. While most restaurants have to cover worker's comp and the like, shops that deliver need more coverage. Four insurance companies specializing in pizza seemed like a lot until one of the booth guys told me there were 70,000 pizzerias in the country.
The action isn't limited to the convention floor. Tom "The Dough Doctor" Lehmann talks flour, water, yeast, and salt to a mostly captive audience in one of the conference rooms upstairs.
Answering The Call
For all of the POS systems at the show, there was a surprising lack of phone marketing. Call IQ helps sign up customers for text-based offers. They also manage to keep enough information on callers to make Big Brother nervous, in an effort to track and boost sales. That, and they let me take a picture of them without too much grumbling.
Do You Want Parmesan or Red Pepper?
Like I said, every aspect of pizza is covered at the Expo, all the way down to the cheese and pepper packets.
Can I Just See The Box?
Star Pizza Boxes had cool boxes, but they must have been worried that cardboard wasn't going to be enough to bring folks in. Girls and gambling ensued yet again.
Setting The Table
What's that? Tablecloths aren't the first or second thing you think about when you hear "Pizza Expo?" Maybe that's why Americo had the market cornered at the show.
Grande In More Way Than One
Perfect For Leftovers
I hadn't seen one of these breakaway boxes from Zabox that split and form a smaller container so you can easily fit your leftovers in the fridge. Is anybody using them yet? Is the cost worth the benefit?
This oven from XLT was by far the prettiest one at the convention. Whether the pies roll off the conveyor belt in the same attractive fashion is another story.
Not Just Pizza
By the way, it's not just pizza samples. You think you can just walk by a table like this and not take a bite. Then you realize how truly wrong you can be.
Lighting The Way
Ever wanted to know who makes those signs on top of the delivery cars? This guy, that's who.
Just Add Water (And Berries)
The readymade Jiffy mix of flour, yeast, salt, and who knows what else isn't that disturbing to me. But the fruit pie on the top right sure is.
For the Gear Heads
I didn't take loads of pictures of equipment, but if you're into pizza tools you can pick up pretty much anything at the show.
A Booth For Everything
Is foot pain part of the pizzamaking process? I suppose it can be...but this booth seemed like the reach of the convention for me.
With literally hundreds of samples on the convention floor, there were more than a few dishwashing stations tucked away from public view. I leave you with a tribute to the folks who actually made the food happen.