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Dispatch from Pizza Expo 2017: Day One

Dan TallaricoComment
The all-star Caliente pizza crew

The all-star Caliente pizza crew

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. With a year under his belt, as well as at least 100 more pizza slices, Tom is ready to tackle the 2017 Pizza Expo.These are his unedited reports.

Pizza Expo 2017-Day 1

Day One at the Pizza Expo usually involves Registration completion of participants & completion of the Exhibit set-up. It also includes informative Workshops for Pizza Shop operators for running a successful business & the start of seminars. Before the sessions began, my Expo started where last year’s ended as I ran into the group from Caliente’s. Last year at this time I ran into owner Nick Bogacz on the last day. He informed me that his chef, Eric Von Hansen had won best Pan Pizza in the International Pizza Challenge & brought two other staff members This year, Nick has brought along a total of 5 staff members.

Experience suggests that a big part in running a successful Pizza Business is assembling a good team which is not easy. Nick has been able to do just that. Keys are treating the staff well, develop loyalties & finding good “kids” who want to work & learn. He brings them to events like this. His staff is entered in the World Pizza Games; dough stretching & box folding & now 2 entrants in the International Pizza Challenge.

Eric is competing in the Non-Traditional Division. In additional, one of Caliente’s younger staff members, Matt Hickey, is entering his 1st competition in the Pan Division. Matt has been with Caliente’s for 2 years. However, he has been reading Pizza Today for many years, has always wanted to get to the Expo & now is ready for competition. He has prepared well, working at a number of shops in the area before getting to Caliente’s where he is now GM at the newest location in Mt. Lebanon. Good luck to both Eric & Matt. Caught a glimpse of their Pizza babies. Both look tasty with a bit of a twist; quite Innovative. Incidentally, Caliente’s now has 3 locations & hopes to open a 4th by late summer.

pizza expo keynote

Speaking of Innovation, that was the topic of the opening seminar. Innovation Keeps Me Growing speaker was Doug Ferriman, an owner in the Boston area with the Crazy Dough brand & now launching a 2nd business, Oath Craft Business involving fresh ingredient pies with wife, Melissa. Doug’s philosophy is being positive, have faith in yourself & living in the Unknown. The Unknown is where Innoovation comes from. Success generally doesn’t come quickly or easily & it took Doug about 7 years to achieve the success he now enjoys. Key Points or Elevations as he calls them include:

  • Having a clear & open mind; let the bad stuff go; keep your energy positive

  • Humility & Visualization

  • Conquering Fears

  • Determination

  • Power of Perspective

  • Will to Win

  • The Summit itself


Norman Vincent Peale couldn’t have put it better. Of course, Doug’s success involved becoming an International Pizza Challenge Champion on 2 occasions.'

One win involves quite an Innovative way of prepping dough. It involved grilling the dough, searing the dough in Olive Oil & then baking. Sounds tasty.'

Melissa & Doug Ferriman, Pizza Visionaries

Melissa & Doug Ferriman, Pizza Visionaries

A 2nd seminar involved Dough Fermentation moderated by Peter Reinhart. Topics include various fermentation processes & the importance of time & temperature for consistency. Key point was longer fermentation leads to better flavor & texture for your crust.


Lastly, attended a seminar conducted by Tony G. involving Specialty Cheeses & how to apply them. Once again, this session demonstrates the evolution & innovation of Pizza making. Subject matter ranged from traditional cheeses in their various forms to “finishing” cheeses of the softer, creamier variety. Makes one anxious to get back home to try something new.

That completed Day One. Informative sessions along with meeting new & old friends.

Tomorrow the Exhibits open & the World Games begin.