From Suffolk to Italy: Pizzaiolo aims for slice of success in Pizza Olympics
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A local business owner will showcase their talent in the fine art of pizza making as he takes the cuisine's birth place for this year's Pizza Olympics.
Pizzaiolo Paul Jackson, from Oakfired in Ravensmere, Beccles could be the only British pizzamaker heading to Naples in Italy for this year's event on July 8 to 10.
Mr Jackson, who is also co-owner of the restaurant, has been enduring the heat of the wood-fired Valoriana oven in training for the international event.
According to the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), the Valoriana oven is the only oven capable of cooking authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Five medals will be awarded to the winners of the categories, including the 'Vera Pizza Napoletana' category, plus categories for gourmet, gluten-free, deep-fried pizza as well as Mastunicola - the very first pizza ever produced in the home of pizza.
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The pizza chef will compete in the Vera Pizza Napoletana category, which rewards skills in the making and cooking of the Margherita pizza to the AVPN standards. He will also be taking on each of tasks in the 'Gourmet' pizza category.
He said: "The Margherita category will be about producing the finest tomato and cheese pizza possible, so there is little room for improvisation and it will be all about translating the AVPN's stringent guidelines on the cooking of a Margherita pizza.
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"When it comes to the Gourmet category, I will have much more room to manoeuvre and unleash my ideas and flavours. What I will cook is yet to be revealed," he said.
Paul Williams, fellow co-owner of Oakfired says: "This is an amazing thing for both Britain and the county of Suffolk, which surely never imagined having a chef that could compete in the very tough Pizza Olympics, against not just the best in Italy, but the finest pizza chefs worldwide."
Eligibility into the prestigious competition was recognised in autumn 2018 when Oakfired, at the Royal Oak, became only the third British eatery, and 743rd worldwide, to be judged as capable of cooking Neapolitan pizza to the required AVPN standards. They are one of only 750 worldwide restaurants eligible to compete in the event.