St. Albert pizza maker is the 2017 Canadian pizza champion

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Matteo Cesarotto scores big at the Canadian Pizza Show

A local pizza maker is cementing St. Albert’s reputation for creating the best pizza in Canada.

Buco Pizzeria + Vino’s pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Matteo Cesarotto beat out 18 competitors in Mississauga on Oct. 16 to emerge as the Canadian Pizza Show’s 2017 Pizza Maker of the Year.

“I felt very proud of myself. I always work hard and this is a big honour to receive this important award,” said Cesarotto, who has worked at Buco on Bellerose Dr. for the past three years.

The Italian-born pizzaiolo first won the traditional pizza division face-off before pitting his talents against one of his friends, Giuseppe Cortinovis, winner of the open division.

Of the two competitors vying for the grand prize, Cesarotto’s boar sausage and portobello mushroom thick-crust pizza fashioned in the southern Italian culinary tradition scored the highest points.

What was the secret to the pizza’s success?

“The dough,” replies Cesarotto. “It was a really light pizza.”

He made the secret dough at Buco and transported it on the airplane. The boar sausage was purchased from south Edmonton’s Buffalo Valley Variety Meats, a supplier of locally-raised, range-fed exotic and game meats.

“The boar sausage has a strong taste. I salted it with onion, garlic and white wine. The white wine makes the strong taste more gentle so you can taste the meat.”

The final touch was mushrooms marinated in herbs and cut into round floral patterns decorating the pizza.

“I tried to make it simple, but very nice to see.”

The judges agreed. They awarded him the crown which comes with $1,000 cash and an expense-paid trip to compete at the International Pizza Expo on March 19 to 22 in Las Vegas.

Originally from Padua, a city in northern Italy about 40 kilometres west of Venice, Cesarotto attended culinary school at nearby Vincenza receiving a diploma as a pastry chef.

The area’s cuisine reflects its humble agricultural history of simple, hearty meals made with fresh local ingredients – polenta, game meat, cheeses, truffles, fruits and wine.

“I like the creativity making pastry. It’s not just cakes. I learned to make gelato, bread, everything. There are salty things. There are sweet things.”

But after working for three years as a pastry chef in various shops and bakeries, Cesarotto expanded his interests to the honourable artisan trade of pizza making.

“I wanted to change things up and learn new things. The original pizza is from south Italy and I wanted to improve it and I moved to Calabria.”

Shortly after honing his pizza-making skills in Calabria, the pizzaiolo immigrated to Canada and brought the traditional old-fashioned way of making pizza.

“It was a little bit hard coming, but I wanted to find new adventure with new people.”

Will locals get a chance to taste the best pizza in Canada on Buco’s menu?

“We’ll see. I don’t know,” replies Cesarotto with a broad smile splitting his fave.

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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.