The International Pizza Expo, which is set for August 17-19 in Las Vegas, is the annual gathering for every element of the pizza industry. Attendees meet with current vendors and search for new suppliers, as well as network with fellow pizzeria owners and managers who face similar challenges in different markets.
Held in conjunction with the event, the International Artisan Bakery Expo is set for August 17-19 at the same venue in Las Vegas, bringing the booming artisan bakery community and their suppliers together. “Artisan Bakery Expo is an amazing resource for artisan bakers,” says Tom Gumpel, speaker & demonstrator, and former vice president of product development, Panera Bread.
To gain further insight into current trends, Bake magazine reached out to Jeremy White, content director and editor-in-chief for Pizza Today, Pizza Expo, and the Artisan Bakery Expo.
BAKE: How is America’s love affair with pizza driving consumer demand even higher?
JW: Our surveys show that 94% of Americans enjoy pizza and consume it regularly. Translation: Pizza is a communal food with near universal appeal in the United States. Because it is easy to find no matter where you’re located, inexpensive as compared to other foods and holds up well after being transported, pizza was uniquely positioned to thrive during the pandemic.
BAKE: What are the latest trends regarding popular pizza styles in America?
JW: Detroit-style pizza, Roman-style pizza and Pizza Fritta are enjoying their moment in the sun right now, while tavern-style thin crust also happens to be undergoing a Renaissance.
BAKE: For pizza makers, what steps are the foundation of making great pizza?
JW: It all begins with a consistent dough formula. The crust is the foundation upon which everything rests. Without dialing in your dough formula, you’ll never be able to consistently produce great pizza.
BAKE: What are the essential elements of an amazing pizza crust?
JW: It depends on the style of pizza you’re attempting to perfect. Some require higher hydration levels and extended proofing times to develop flavor and result in an open and airy crumb structure. Others, like a New York style pie, you’re going for a finished crust that is foldable, with a crunch on the exterior and a soft interior.
BAKE: What about trends in ingredients?
JW: It all starts with high quality flour, then from there a good pizza maker who respects the craft will focus on utilizing only the best tomatoes, oils, cheeses, meats, etc. Point blank: a pizza with inferior ingredients is easily spotted. Its look, taste and texture all suffer, creating a subpar experience for the diner with a seasoned palate.