National Pizza Contest Offers Chefs, Students Up to $25,000 for Innovative Recipes Using Real California Cheese

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Tracy, Calif. – January 31, 2019 – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced the 2019 Real California Pizza Contest – a search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, which awards prize money totaling $25,000 for the most innovative use of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open to professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.

The contest kicks off Friday, February 1, 2019 when participants can enter recipes in three categories: All Cheese, recipes using three or more Real California Cheeses; Mexican-Style, pizzas featuring Mexican-style cheeses from California cheesemakers; and The REAL California, ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Entry submissions close on March 25, 2019.

“Cheese is at the heart of every great pizza. With more than 78,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and another 100,000 plus restaurants serving some type of pizza or flatbread, it makes sense to showcase the inventive ways chefs and culinary students are using California cheese to set themselves apart,” said Mike Gallagher, Business and Market Development Consultant for the CMAB. “As the leading producer of Mozzarella as well as Hispanic-style and Monterey Jack cheeses, we’re excited to celebrate these artisans and their creations.”

Twelve finalists – three professional chefs and one culinary student in each category – will be selected by a professional panel of judges to compete in a bake-off on May 9, 2019 at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif. The winners in each category will be awarded $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Interested chefs and culinary students can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with milk from California’s more than 1,300 dairy farm families. For a list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and to enter online, visit