The following is a column written by our new columnist, Tom Tallarico (previously associate editor). Tom Tallarico has a lust for pizza and Las Vegas that can hardly be contained in single post. Enjoy his writing and please help me understand why he refers to me as a "webmaster."
Prequel/Arrival: Hello, everyone; I’m baacckk. As the Expo was approaching this year, I was with Webmaster Dan for a visit to see Tony at Pizza Taglio in January. We were reminiscing about last year’s Expo as Tony had also attended. On the way home, I said to Dan, “Heck, I’m going back; this event is too good to miss for so many reasons.” The Big News this year is Webmaster Dan is also attending for the 1st time as you’ve probably already noted. As Dan has reported, over the last 12 months, the Pizza growth in Pittsburgh has been amazing. “Tony Taglio” won a local best Pizza award, Caliente, a perennial winner at the EXPO opened a 4th shop (in my neighborhood, Aspinwall; MMmmmm) & Driftwood Oven has moved into a permanent location in Lawrenceville. Dan has most recently reported a renaissance in Pittsburgh with Detroit style; more on that later.
For me (and others), part of the charm of the Expo is the Las Vegas setting. No surprise as this town is the US Convention mecca. On Monday, we took an early 6:20 flight to arrive at 8:00 AM. Greeted at the airport by a new & old “Welcome”
Then headed to the hotel, dropped bags at off to the convention center where valet Mark noted Dan’s hat & assumed he was a Gonzaga fan. This was the first reminder of everything else going on in the city, NCAA Sweet 16 Madness,
AND OF COURSE, the BUFFETS.
But enough of that for now. The first mission upon entering the Convention Hall is getting the Badge. The last 2 years, as Dan was not coming I was using his badge. But this year:
My own badge. Perhaps, the last 2 years never really happened?? At any rate, with nothing happening yet, we proceeded over to the café for much needed coffee as NAPTIME thoughts were already dancing in our heads. Curiously enough, we spotted someone in a Penquins shirt. I approached him to chat wondering who this might be. None other than Pete Tolman, owner of the increasingly popular Iron Borne, a big part of the Detroit Pizza movement in Pittsburgh. Interesting background in that he was a classically trained chef with a background in fine dining whose credits include time at Nemacolin. Anyone heard of Latreauc? He had no background in Pizza but decided to go with it & the Detroit style after enjoying it at a shop in Colorado(??) called Brown Dog.
After a nice chat, we headed to a seminar conducted by John Gutekanst, owner of Avalanche Pizza in the college town of Athens, Ohio. Titled Finding Your Niche; Using Creativity, Absurdity & Street Smarts. The title speaks for itself & the content lived up to it. The underlying theme was to Try anything once to market your shop even if it scares people. Core values are Passion, Love, Creativity & Knowledge.
That brought the first day to an end at the Expo except for checking on the progress of the Exhibit set-up.
So far, so good. We all recall what goes on at the Exhibits??? More on that next time.