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Hamilton pizzeria wins best cheese slice in the world, after race to get dough to Vegas from Canada

In search of the world’s best cheese pizza? Look no further than Hamilton. 

Local pizzeria Cowabunga won the best slice of cheese pizza at the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas last week — a prestigious prize for “passionate pizzamakers” co-owner Andy Huynh told CBC’s Metro Morning on Tuesday.

“It’s catapulting us into way more than we could’ve eve imagined,” Huynh said. “I’ve always wanted to win an award like this.” 

Behind the perfect pie and sweet victory was a tumultuous team effort.

The key to Cowabunga’s pizza is its dough, made from a sourdough starter, that needs to sit and chill for at least 72 hours, Huynh said. 

11:01Hamilton pizzeria wins the prize for ‘Best Slice of Cheese Pizza’ in the world

Andy Huynh is co-owner of Cowabunga Pizzeria in Hamilton.

That meant he and co-owner Justin Tanda prepared the dough in advance of flying to Las Vegas, said Huynh. They then packed some of the dough in a checked cooler and more in their carry-on luggage, kept cold alongside bags of frozen fruit. 

When the landed in Las Vegas and went to collect their most prized possession, they discovered the dough was missing. So they turned to their carry-on back-up dough, which got them fourth place in the first round of competition — good enough to nab a spot in the final.

A man holds a large pizza on a pan.
Cowabunga co-owner Andy Huynh holds the pizzeria’s now award-winning cheese pizza at the restaurant’s Vine Street location in downtown Hamilton. (Eva Salinas/CBC)

The next hurdle was figuring out how to get more of their properly rested dough in Hamilton across the continent in 24 hours, said Huynh. 

One of their staffers booked a last-minute flight to transport the dough thousands of kilometres on Wednesday night for the Thursday competition. 

“It was pretty much a buzzer beater moment,” Huynh said. 

They also relied on the same Canadian cheese and sauce for the final product. 

man leaves pizza shop
A customer leaves Cowabunga on Vine Street. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

In the days since, Huynh said customers have stopped by their locations on Vine Street and Upper Wellington Street to congratulate them and take a bite of the famous slice.

“We’re waiting to see what happens in the next weeks and months with how well it’s going to help our business,” he said.

John Chetti, manager partner of Queen Margherita Pizza in Toronto, has been a judge for a competition closer to home — the Canadian Pizza Summit — where another Hamilton pizzeria, Maipai tiki and pizza bar, has previously won for best pizza recipe for the restaurant’s Mala Honey Pie. 

Chetti previously told CBC Hamilton that overall Canada has “great talent” when it comes to pizza chefs. He said Canada’s two major cultural centres for pizza making are the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal, the latter having “authentic roots and very innovative chefs that are willing to take risks.”

This article is from from cbc.ca (CBC NEWS CANADA)

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