June 14, 2015

Pizza Wars: California Pizza Kitchen Philippines Pizza Chef Competition

Passion, creativity, dedication and hardwork – these are the virtues exemplified by the participants of the first ever Pizza Wars: CPK Philippines Pizza Chef Competition. California Pizza Kitchen has been in our shores since 1998, but it is only now that such a battle, specifically for creating new gourmet pizza flavors, took place.


The contest participants  were pizza chefs from all the Metro Manila branches of California Pizza Kitchen. After the semi-finals, 3 chefs, already considered winners, emerged among all those who partake of the said Pizza Wars. They are Chef Romel of CPK Alabang, Chef Leia of CPK Eastwood and Chef JC aka Ople of CPK Trinoma.


I was fortunate to have been invited to witness the grand finals of the first ever CPK Philippines  Pizza Wars at their W Global Center  Building-Bonifacio Global City branch last June 09, 2015. We got to try all the pizza flavors created by the 3 finalists and each guest made a guess of who would win the battle. As reward, all the persons who guessed the winning pizza will get to take home a box of the same pizza.

The three simultaneously prepared their original recipe pizza creations while everyone watched and waited. We were able to chit-chat with Global Restaurant Concepts execs: Ms. Luisa Del Rosario (Senior Operations Director), Mr. Archie Rodriguez (President & CEO of GRCI) and CPK brand ambassador Daniel Wilson told us the stories behind this latest event by CPK while the chefs prepare their pizza creations.

And then a few minutes later, one by one the pizzas were served to every table for all the guests to try. Here are the three pizza finalists:
Pizza Chef Lea Castillones from Eastwood called her original pizza recipe Steak with Mushroom + Truffle Pizza. It consisted of Mozzarella, fresh Mozzarella, button mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, Abalone mushrooms, grilled steak with Truffle sauce base. What she had in mind for her original recipe is  complete nutrition and that both kids and adults will enjoy. I really loved the mixture of the ingredients of this pizza probably because I love cheese and beef and mushrooms!


Pizza Chef Romel Panaligan from CPK Alabang concocted a vegetarian pizza with a twist—The Farmer’s Choice. He used roasted squash puree as base then topped with Mozzarella, Fresh Mozzarella, grilled eggplant & zucchini, cherry tomatoes and desiccated coconut. I love this as well and kinda reminded me of Pinakbet, interestingly, this well-loved Filipino dish was also Rommel’s inspiration aside from the memories of their family farm in the province.

Pizza John Chloe Oplejeda from Trinoma was inspired by his favorite singer Elvis’ favorites sandwich thus it was called The Elvis Pizza. His was a dessert pizza with the following ingredients: peanut butter sauce, Mozzarella, crispy bacon, banana slices, sprinkled with candied walnuts and with peanut butter gelato topper. This is such  a unique recipe I must say and this is the first time I heard of and tasted a dessert pizza. I am sure kids will love it!


After everyone got to try the pizzas, it was time for judging. The three judges who decided the fate of these three pizza chefs were: Mr. Archie Rodriguez (President & CEO of GRCI), Mr. Griffith Go (CFO of GRCI) and celebrity Chef Rolando Laudico (the man behind Guevarra’s, Pugon and Bistro Filipino). 

The judges were very objective and insightful. Mr. Rodriguez commented that Romel’s pizza recipe brought him back to his childhood. Chef Laudico relayed his past experiences during his early days being a chef (he was also a pizza chef back then) because he could relate to the three finalists who all started at the humblest level in their respected CPK branches. His insights were also very helpful and inspiring to everyone especially to the three finalists.

Based on the criteria for judging: creativity, execution, taste, appearance and marketability,  the scores given by Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Go and Chef Lau, Chef Romel Panaligan’s  The Farmer’s Choice took home the grand prize which consisted of PHP 25,000 cash prize and the winning pizza will be added to CPK’s regular menu plus bragging rights!


My little sissy Princess went home with the winning pizza because she was able to guess that the Farmer’s Choice would win the Pizza Wars. Unlucky for me my guess didn’t make it. But we surely had fun and enjoyed the pizzas and other dishes served to us during the event. But I got have my photo taken with Chef Laudico though! LOL! Shout out to Liz Carreon for inviting us!

For more updates, connect with CPK Philippines at www.facebook.com/CPKPhilippines, @CPKPhilippines for Twitter & Instagram or visit their locations in Greenbelt 5, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Greenhills Promenade, Eastwood, Rockwell, Bonifacio Global City, Mall of Asia, Alabang Town Center and Century City Mall.

For more information and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
California Pizza Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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  1. Had so much fun at the CPK PIzza Wars! :)


  2. Yum!! Exnay the bacon and I would try all of them!! :D


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