Pizza professionals from all over the country gathered in Atlantic City on Oct. 3 and 4 at the Pizza & Pasta Northeast Trade Show to see if their pie was worthy of the Caputo Cup—the equivalent of an Oscar for pizza makers. Brenton Wallace, head chef and owner of Crust & Craft in Rehoboth Beach, was among the hopeful crust craftsmen.
Wallace, who came in 29th place in last year’s competition, was entering the traditional division, which is typically one of the most challenging. Entrants could make a New York, Chicago, Detroit, Sicilian or the square-shaped “grandma’s pie.”
Most pie masters went with the New York or Chicago-style pizza. Of the 60 competitors who entered, Wallace was the only one that crafted a grandma’s pie.
Since he lives close to Atlantic City, Wallace brought all the ingredients for his pie with him, including two types of dough. But there was one thing he couldn’t control. The wood-fired oven he wanted to use was too hot, so he had to switch to a style of pizza oven that was unfamiliar to him.
After making his pizza, he sat with the crowd to do a live Facebook feed, figuring it would be good publicity for his restaurant.
“I had zero belief I would win a prize,” he confided. “These are the best male and female pizza-makers in our industry. They compete everywhere.” What’s more, the judges included top pizza professionals in the business, including Tony Gemignani of San Francisco.
Friend and fellow Rehoboth Beach chef Hari Cameron watched the live feed, and the two began bantering while the third and second places winners in the traditional division were announced. Wallace was still on the live feed when his name was called.
He’d won first place. A shocked Wallace handed his phone to a stranger, who continued to film the ceremony.
WALLACE, WHO CAME IN 29TH PLACE LAST YEAR, WINS THE CAPUTO CUP WITH A SQUARE-SHAPED “GRANDMA’S PIE.”// Photos Courtesy of Brenton Wallace
You can taste the award-winning pie for yourself on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Crust & Craft. “We may have to make it more often, because people are calling about it all the time,” he says.
Wallace said he received $2,500, a “big old trophy” and a lot of good press. But the satisfaction of winning is priceless.
“It was pretty crazy,” he says. “It was surreal. You are there with everyone you respect in the industry, and to win an award is just crazy.”