Pizza Maker Taking on the World
Reposted with permission from the Watertown Public Opinion
Pizza chef Sean Dempsey is prepping for one international competition and thinking about another.
The owner of Dempsey’s Brewery, Pub & Restaurant will be in Las Vegas next week for the International Pizza Challenge, the event that earned him fame last year. His traditional pizza was judged No. 1 from the country’s northwest region, and he placed 10th overall.
Dempsey is also planning for the World Pizza Championship April 9-11 in Parma, Italy, where he’ll be part of the 41-member United States Pizza Team.
“I’ll be in the Mecca of pizza,” Dempsey said about the Italy trip. “My mind’s blown even thinking about going to it.”
But first there’s Vegas and trying to repeat the 2017 success that happened in his first-ever competition. He admits that he was just excited last year not to finish in last place.
“Now I’m feeling a bit more confident about my surroundings and what I’m doing,” he said. “I’ve been here (Dempsey’s) pretty much every day, making different batches of dough, playing with different pies and working out my levels of hydration and making sure I have the perfect crust to compete with.
“I have to be ready. This is the Super Bowl of pizza making. It’s the biggest one in the States.”
Dempsey admits he didn’t have any grand plan in place that led to last year’s success. He took his own ingredients, including Watertown water, and his pizza turned out well.
“I think it was a lot of work I had put into it last year,” he said. “I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t realize that all that hard work I had done in the past really paid off.”
This year he’ll be entered into the non-traditional category and assistant Michael Bacon will be competing in traditional.
There are five categories in which to enter, and the overall winner will receive a giant silver pizza pan and the title Pizza Maker of the Year.
The competition will be more stout in Italy at the site where Parmesan cheese was invented. Titles will be awarded for 11 different types of pizza. Dempsey will enter a reuben pizza into the Classic Pizza category.
“Italian pizza is all very crispy and light and one topping,” Dempsey explained. “I’m not going to make something that’s super heavy, but I’m going to make something that’s very memorable. Hopefully I won’t get hung for it.”
The U.S. team includes 23 Premiere members who compete regularly several times a year, and 18 Competing members, such as Dempsey, who are either new members or have yet to earn their “Black Coat” to become a Premiere member. The coat is only obtained by winning a sanctioned contest.
Dempsey will fly to Philadelphia in early April where the U.S. team is gathering before they fly together to Italy. After the contest Dempsey will travel by train to Austria and then to Germany to visit relatives.
He has no expectations about where he’ll finish in the contest. He’s just looking forward to discovering new ideas.
“I want to learn from all these people who’ll be there,” he said. “Meeting new people, looking for new ideas, seeing how somebody from Japan or Egypt makes their pizza. It will be fun just to experience the entire thing and learn from it and see how it goes.”