World Pizza Day: 6 Global Chefs Who Have Reinvented Pizza
Image Credit: Sarah Minnick is one of the chefs transforming the way we look at pizzas. Image Credits: Facebook/Identita Golose

If you love pizza, then World Pizza Day is just another excuse for you to indulge in your favourite style of pizza. You might like your pizza the original Napolitana way, or you might like it with four types of cheese for the perfect night of indulgence. You might secretly like the controversial Hawaiian pizza, or you might be satiating your cravings with a gluten-free vegan version. Whatever method you choose to indulge in what I call a disc full of pleasures, you know just as well as I do that nothing will excite our taste buds more than discovering new varieties of pizzas to taste.

And that’s where shows like Chef’s Table: Pizza on Netflix come to the aid of pizza lovers from around the world. This show highlights six chefs from around the world who have taken their love for serving pizza to a whole new level. From adding kimchi to the list of toppings to making a special handmade dough, these chefs’ creativity knows no limits. If you’re looking for inspiration and more reason to love pizzas on World Pizza Day, then here’s everything you need to know about them. 

Chris Bianco

This New York-born chef had asthma as a child, which forced him to stay indoors—and this opened the doors to the kitchen where his aunt cooked Italian delicacies. By the time he started working in the local pizzeria and went on to take chef jobs in Italy, he already knew making fresh mozzarella and handmade dough is where his calling lay. He started the now iconic Pizzeria Bianco in 1993 in Phoenix, Arizona, which is known for handcrafted beauties. Bianco makes every pizza sold himself (average of 250 per night). His signature pizza dough is fermented for 18 hours, the mozzarella cheese is made fresh every morning, and even the herbs come from the garden next door. It’s the sheer dedication he puts into crafting each pizza that make’s Bianco’s contribution so famous.

Gabriele Bonci

Most Italians are very particular about their pizza, which is why the idea of a Roman chef revolutionizing it might sound, well, revolutionary. But that’s precisely what Gabriele Bonci did at the Pizzarium Bonci. The pizzeria opened in 2003 near the Vatican City, and quickly became known for the pizza al taglio or pizza baked in rectangular trays and sold by the slice. While most people around the world are familiar with the round-shaped Napolitana pizza, pizza al taglio was invented in Rome, reinvented and made popular by Bonci and his team. Bonci’s signature pizza became so popular that he is now known as the ‘Michelangelo of Pizza’. 

Ann Kim

This Korean-American chef and her pizza is proof that no matter what your personal heritage, if you love pizza, you can represent it by merging cultures. Trained as an actress, Kim enjoyed eating New York-style pizzas so much during her stay there that she San Francisco’s International School of Pizza to learn more. In 2011, she opened Pizzeria Lola with her partner in her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota—and that’s where critics first learned to love pizza with kimchi on it. A true representation of Korean cuisine, Kim’s kimchi-style pizza and other innovations won her the James Beard Award in 2019.

Franco Pepe

A proponent of the slow food movement, Pepe comes from a dynasty of pizza, which is why people believe that dough is in his DNA. The secret to his fame is the handmade dough, along with the fact that all the ingredients that go into his product are sourced from the immediate vicinity of Pepe in Grani, his pizzeria in Caiazzo, Naples. Pepe develops the dough for days on end in cases, balancing the sourdough and beer-based yeasts by mixing the flour by hand. Throughout this process, the dough is never touched by any mechanical technique or machine, highlighting the chef’s support for slow food.

Yoshihiro Imai

A Japanese-style pizzeria might seem unimaginable, but Imai, who fell in love with pizza at the age of 23, makes it come true every day. Imai opened Monk in 2015, which is known for its Japanese omakase menu which provides pizzas end to end—just not in a way you’ve eaten it before. Imai’s pizzas are topped with uniquely Japanese ingredients like chrysanthemum, wild venison, mountain vegetables—all sourced every day by the chef. Nestled in the bosom of nature, Imai’s Kyoto restaurant is the perfect blend of Japanese Kaiseki and Italian pizza-making cultures.

Sarah Minnick

The very name Sarah Minnick is synonymous to Portland-style pizza, and for good reason. A native of Oregon, USA, Minnick restaurant, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, sources all the ingredients for her pizza from locally-grown produce. The flour comes from neighbouring mills, and all the toppings are sourced from Pacific Northwestern farmers. You won’t find pepperoni on any of Minnick’s pizzas, but you sure will find edible flowers, fresh fenugreek, and other herbs and greens like purslane. The flavour of this chef’s signature pizza is unique and revolutionary, to say the least.