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How To Be a Pizza Judge in Two Easy Steps

September 26, 2014

Since I first read about All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza I was in love with the idea. There is a lot of pizza in the region, and not all of it is great. Most of it is decidedly not great. Yet people continue to hold up their favorite pizzeria as the best in the region, when really it’s often far from it.

The best way to gauge the relative quality of anything is to try it alongside something similar. Which tastes better, Coke or Pepsi? You may have some idea in your head based on brand preferences and past experiences, but how many people have ever sat down to try the two side by side? This kind of tasting is valuable experience, and I love to help people set up similar tastings with wine.

This year, I’m honored to once again be judging pizza for this auspicious competition. Let me tell you, it’s harder work than it sounds. The task has me and other judges questioning what we think we know about good pizza, and at times I’ve found myself voting for a pizza that lacks several key traits that I believe to be indicative of well-made pies.

One reason it’s an honor to sit at the judge’s table is that so many other people would love to have this opportunity. Well, this year the tournament organizers and its sponsor have come up with two ways for everyone to get in on this action.

1. Win a Spot in the Exclusive Semi Finals

I’ve always loved the semi finals. This is where the best pizza parlors from the four corners of the region (Saratoga Springs, Troy, Schenectady, and Albany) go head to head. Any round can be disappointing, but by the semis, the wheat has been separated from the chaff. Given that this year’s contest is a tournament of champions, the semis should be even that much better.

You don’t have that much time to act. Keeler MINI is sponsoring this year’s TOP and they are giving away three spots to this mega round. We’ll be eating eight pizzas that night. Eight. That’s a lot of pizza. Come ready to work.

All you have to do is click here and fill out the entry form. Yes, you will have to “like” them on Facebook, but that’s how it goes. Me? I like anyone who sponsors the TOP. Just be forewarned, this contest closes at noon today (Friday, September 26) so act fast.

The other thing to note is that while the winners will get to participate in the semifinals, they will not get a vote. That’s reserved for…

2. The AOA TOP Final to End All Finals Party
In the end it will come down to two shops. Right now I have no idea which two they will be. But I do know that we’ll be evaluating two different pies from each shop. That’s four slices, which honestly is a much more reasonable amount of pizza.

There will also be beer, since the finals are to be hosted at Shmaltz Brewing (on October 11).

Everyone who comes will get a ballot and will be able to cast a vote for a People’s Choice Champion. And getting into the finals is a lot easier than winning a slot in the semis. All you have to do is click here and buy a ticket (which is about $22).

The only thing is that tickets are limited. So act fast. Like today. Now would be better. But today should be fine too. Just don’t whine if you miss the boat.

It would be awesome to see a bunch of you at the finals. It will be a combination pizza-tasting and AOA party. Those AOA parties are the best. And there is pizza and beer to boot. Not to mention the very rare opportunity to evaluate two of the region’s best pizza places.

Did I mention that this will also be the very last AOA Tournament of Pizza? Seriously, get in on this now. I would hate to see you miss it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2014 12:01 pm

    Why is this the last Tournament of Pizza? Why don’t you take it over next year?

  2. llcwine permalink
    September 26, 2014 12:24 pm

    Daniel….eating pizza the day before Yom Kippur starts? You better drink a ton of water!!!!

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