China is a paradox. Although viewed as a “commu- nist country,” it’s actually a mecca of capitalism and entrepreneurial spirit. The massive city of
Shanghai is deeply rooted in a legacy of ancient traditions, yet it’s also a forward-thinking city of innovation.
It matches up perfectly with pizza: respectful of tradition, yet always innovating.
Shanghai has long been one of the most international
of all Chinese cities—many Chinese citizens outside of
Shanghai don’t consider it to be a true Chinese city at
all. What better place in Asia to hold a pizza competition
than in this cultural crossroads? For the second straight
year, the U.S. Pizza Team tested its mettle against culinary
minds from around the world at the Chinese Pizza Cham-
pionship. Sponsored by PMQ China, the contest was held
in early November at FHC China, the largest food show
in Asia. Answering the 2016 call were competition veter-
ans Michael LaMarca of Master Pizza in Cleveland, Ohio,
and Dave Sommers of Mad Mushroom in West Lafayette,
Indiana, along with two first-time visitors to Asia: Jason
Samosky of Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria in Valley City,
Ohio, and Chris Mallon of Nashville, Tennessee.
Competitions are one of the primary methods by which
these four pizza masters collaborate, learn, and improve
their product to stay successful in a competitive market.
“Being a member of the U.S. Pizza Team has given me
opportunities to travel all over the United States as well
as the world, literally,” LaMarca noted. “I would have
never been able to say I went to China or Italy if I had
not joined this team.”
A QUEST FOR FOOD
After landing in Shanghai, four of us took a cab to the
Orange Crystal Hotel in the area known as The Bund.
Mallon would join our party later, opting, against all
reason, to self-navigate the Shanghai metro system to
the hotel. “There was a moment of panic—where I didn’t
know which train to take—that I thought I might be
permanently lost and wandering Shanghai forever,” Mallon recalls. “Fortunately, I ran into the one guy out of a
China is helping to reinvent pizza as we know it, as members of the U.S. Pizza Team learned at this year’s
Chinese Pizza Championship in Shanghai. Story and photos by Daniel Lee Perea