12 Apr 2014

Aussie beats Italians to pizza prize

7:25 pm on 12 April 2014

An Australian chef has beaten the Italians at their own game by winning the award for the best Pizza Margherita at the World Pizza Championship.

The annual competition, which took place in the Italian city of Parma, attracts hundreds of entrants from around the world.

A margherita pizza

A margherita pizza Photo: PHOTO NZ

The international panel of judges decided the winner in the traditional Neapolitan pizza category was Johnny Di Francesco, who runs a restaurant in Melbourne.

But local pride was not all lost, as the Di Francesco family hails from Naples and the chef himself trained in the city's prestigious Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

His recipe firmly follows tradition - and with good reason - as Neapolitan pizza won European Union Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status in 2010.

This strictly defines the ingredients and manner of cooking - the pizza must be baked in a wood-burning stove and have a smooth, supple texture.

Italian honour was bolstered by the judges' decision that the best classic pizza is still made in Italy, in the south-eastern port city of Bari.

Chef Giulio Scialpi's creation of various cheeses, aubergine and anchovies won him the prize he "craved since first entering the championship in 2000".

The two runners-up in this category were also Italian.