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Spokane chef among 11 finalists in national pizza contest

Ricky Webster of Spokane is a finalist in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Ricky Webster of Spokane is a finalist in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The California Milk Advisory Board has announced 11 finalists in the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest, and chef Ricky Webster of Sysco Spokane has made the cut. Webster’s entry, the Chard to Resist, is a California-inspired pizza featuring ricotta cheese, hot honey and shallots.

The pizza contest is a search for the best recipes incorporating California cheese and includes prize money totaling $25,000 for the best use of cow’s milk cheeses from California in three categories.

The three categories, with the 11 finalists, are All Cheese, Mexican-Style and the Real California. Webster is a finalist in the Real California category, and the contest was open to professional chefs and culinary students. Webster is used to contests: He won the Food Network’s “Holiday Cookie Challenge” and the $10,000 grand prize in November.

Recipes submitted Feb. 1 through March 25 were evaluated by three pizza professionals — Glenn Cybulski, certified pizzaiolo and executive chef; Scott Weiner, founder of Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City; and Mark Todd, an expert food service/retail cheese educator.

Finalists travel to the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif., for the live bake-off finale May 9. Category winners receive $5,000, and the grand prize winner receives an additional $10,000.

“We are very excited by the creativity and innovation that went into these recipes,” said Mike Gallagher, CMAB business and market development consultant, in a news release. “We are thrilled that we have such a diverse breadth of geographic representation in the finalist group and are looking forward to seeing them in action.”


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