Pizza Throwing in the Livermore Valley

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Russ who wanted me to help him celebrate his wife, Beth’s, birthday by teaching her how to throw pizza dough.  Russ told me that he and his wife were pizza lovers and found great joy in making pizza at home.  The one thing that was missing from their home baking experience was the ability to get their pizza dough flying through the air.  I was honored by the request and eager to provide a fun and educational experience for both of them.  Russ’ only request was that I find a location to hold the lesson.

At first I thought about having the lesson at one of my favorite pizza parlors, Pyzano’s Pizzeria in Castro Valley, but then one Saturday as I stood in the barrel room of Nottingham Cellars sipping their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, the idea came to me that the barrel room with its high ceilings and stacked barrels of aging, fermented fruit would be the perfect place to spin pizza and drink some fantastic wine.  What goes better with pizza than a good glass of vino?  I talked with Jeff Cranor, the owner of Nottingham Cellars and he graciously opened up the space for me to use.

Now I think I need to take a moment to explain things.  Many of you who read our blog, have heard me and the rest of the Bryersantís gang talk about our Livermore wine country experiences, but you are probably wondering why I would be asked to teach someone how to throw pizza.  Well to put it simply, I have a little bit of pizza experience.  I am a four time World Pizza Champion.  I got my start in the pizza world in 1993 when I started work at Pyzano’s, which was started by Frank Gemignani.  I was taught to throw pizza by Frank’s brother Tony Gemignani who would go on to become one of the biggest names in the pizza world.  In 1997, I entered my first world pizza acrobatic competition and came in second place to Tony who by that time had already won two of his ten world titles for baking and doing tricks with pizza dough.  In 1998, I won the world title in what was to be the last World Pizza Games competition to be held in the United States until 2005.

In 2005, Tony approach me and told me that he was forming a pizza team called the World Pizza Champions.  He wanted to take this team to Italy to compete in the team throwing competition at the International Pizza Olympics and he wanted me to be a part of it.  Although I was a little rusty after being out of the pizza world for five years I was looking forward to the opportunity.  With the World Pizza Champions team I won three additional world titles over the next three years and had a lot of fun doing it.  It was also in 2005 that I got to be a part of bringing the World Pizza Games back into existence as the World Pizza Champions were tasked by Pizza Today magazine with organizing and running the event.  We continue to run the World Pizza Games in Las Vegas, which has just finished its 6th year being run by the World Pizza Champions.

I met with Beth and Russ last Sunday at Nottingham Cellars and I had a blast sharing that time with them.  We started off with a little homemade bread sticks and pizza, which was complimented by a tasty Nottingham Chardonnay.  We then doused ourselves with flour as we worked the dough.  Beth was a diligent and fast learner as she picked up the basic throwing technique quickly.

Russ took some video footage of our time together and he has graciously given me permission to share it with you.

Thank you to both Beth and Russ for another wonderful pizza and Livermore wine experience. Happy Birthday!!!




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