June 22, 2016

Continuing the Legacy: CPK Pizza Wars 2016, Now on its Second Run!

Making pizza is not a job, it’s a passion – Staying true to its roots of California creativity, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) reaffirms its legacy and brand promise of a culinary adventure with the second run of CPK Pizza Wars, its annual in-house Pizza Chef competition. 

“California Pizza Kitchen has distinguished itself as a pizza authority attributable to its wide selection of innovative and artisanal pizzas. But more importantly, the secret behind the success of CPK here is, of course, the people behind it. Which is why, apart from showcasing the talents of our pizza cooks who are equally passionate about food as we are, we wanted to challenge them to take their culinary skill to the next level. And sure enough, they have proven to be up to that challenge,” said Archie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Global RestaurantConcepts, Inc. (GRCI).

“Here at CPK, we believe that there is a story behind every pizza. More than anything else, CPK Pizza Wars represents this – bringing out the personal stories of our people, associating it with their all original pizza creations, and finding joy in what they do best,” says Grace de Leon, Brand Director for CPK Philippines. “This just strengthens our commitment to take care of our people and nurture their innate culinary talents so that they too can be part of our celebration of California creativity, imagination, and passion.”

The competition went through several rounds of heated competition, beginning with in-store elimination rounds. Each branch sent their own pizza champions to the semi-finals, to compete with each other for the approval of judges Robert Vallar, Marketing Manager of GRCI, Harris Jimenez, Commissary Manager, and Jeff Senia, Culinary Head. Of the semi-finalists, only three chefs were chosen to compete in the final round of competition. The finalists were Noel Araneta of CPK Greenbelt 5, Jerric Venezuela of CPK Alabang, and Rodel Pico of CPK Bonifacio Global City.
For the final round, these three pizza chefs prepared their creations once again, as they sought to win over the discerning taste buds of judges Archie Rodriguez and Griffith Go (GRCI CFO), joined by celebrity chefs, Sau Del Rosario and Sandy Daza. 

Noel Araneta of CPK Greenbelt 5 presented his Cod with Mango Cucumber Salsa Pizza. An Asian inspired dish with a mayo sweet chili sauce base, Goat cheese and Mozzarella, topped with fried codfish and special homemade mango cucumber salsa. Jerric Venezuela of CPK Alabang brought out the boom by rolling out an amazing Dynamite Shrimp Pizza – a fiery fiesta of seafood and spices. Lastly, Rodel Pico of CPK Bonifacio Global City created a fun and original twist with his Anchovies + Goat Cheese Pizza; combining the salty and savory distinctiveness of anchovies while softening it up with the sweetness of caramelized onions and green apples. 

COD WITH MANGO CUCUMBER SALSA - Mayo sweet chili sauce, red bell peppers, Mozzarella and Goat cheese. Topped with fried cod and house made mango cucumber salsa.

DYNAMITE SHRIMP - Dynamite sauce, Mozzarella and Velveeta cheese. Topped with shredded lettuce, red cabbage, rice sticks and dynamite shrimp. A fiery fiesta of seafood and spices!

ANCHOVIES + GOAT CHEESE - Mozzarella and Goat cheese topped with minced anchovies, red and yellow bell peppers, caramelized onions and green apples. A perfect combination of sweet and salty.

1. When did the CPK Pizza Wars start?
Pizza Wars started at CPK in the United States. Being the first location outside the US, it is only fitting that California Pizza Kitchen Philippines is the first international franchise to carry out this Pizza Chef competition. The first Pizza Wars competition in the Philippines was held last June 2015.
2. Are there any restrictions in terms of recipe or ingredients in their entries for Pizza Wars?
There are no restrictions as each contestant is encouraged to be innovative with their entries. However, it’s best if they can predominantly utilize some of the ingredients that are currently readily available in the restaurants while introducing at least one new ingredient that will set them apart from the competition.
3. What will the grand champion of Pizza Wars receive?
The Pizza Wars winner will receive a Php 25,000 cash prize. Aside from this, the winning pizza will be featured in August 2016 as part of California Pizza Kitchen’s annual celebration of National Pizza Day. It will also be included in CPK Philippines’ new menu which will be launched during the last quarter of this year.
4. How was the pizza chef representative selected per branch?
There were in-store elimination rounds wherein two representatives per branch were selected. These two pizza chefs then presented their creations to their regular guests for taste testing. The winner of that round in each of the branches won the privilege to compete in the semi-finals and from there, the top three entries moved on to the final round.
Finally, the verdict was in. It was Rodel Pico’s Anchovies + Goat Cheese Pizza that reigned supreme! “Aside from receiving a cash prize, this winning pizza will be featured as one of the free pizzas in the 5th year Anniversary of our National Pizza Day on August 15-16, 2016. By simply ordering a regular or thin crust pizza, guests will get to have another pizza for free from our special pizza menu. Eventually, it will also be a mainstay in our new menu for roll-out during the last quarter of this year,” Rodriguez adds. “Win or lose, we will continue to fan the flame of their passion of keeping California creativity alive!”
For more information, visit the official website at www.cpk.com.ph and follow their social media sites via California Pizza Kitchen Philippines on Facebook and @cpkphilippines on both Instagram and Twitter. You may also visit California Pizza Kitchen at the 2nd level Power Plant Mall Rockwell, Upper Ground level Alabang Town Center, Ground Level W Global Center BGC, 2nd level Greenbelt 5, Ground Level Promenade Greenhills, Ground Level SM Mall of Asia, Basement Level Century City Mall, and 2nd level Shangri-La Plaza Mall East Wing. 
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