Last month, Twin Towns chef Otello Mancini headed to the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre to compete in the Dairymont Australia National Pizza Championships.

Otello battled it out against some stiff competition, including an army of pizza-makers from some of the best Italian restaurants, takeaway outlets, hotels, pubs and clubs across Australia. He made the cut to the 35 finalists who competed for the National title.

At the finals, Otello fielded a unique pizza creation he calls an ‘Italian Star’. The four-cornered, folded pizza was loaded with four different surprise combinations – four cheese and truffle; pork cheek with pecorino and red onion; radicchio and smoked cheese; and Italian sausage with porcini mushroom and mozzarella. The pizza was served with a garnish of fresh salad and mozzarella in the centre.

Otello didn’t take out the championship but he definitely showed the judges he was “a cut above” and his Italian heritage and life-long passion for all things ‘pizza’ shone through.

“This was the first time I competed in Australia and it was very different to similar competitions in Italy. It was a big ‘level up’ from others I have entered.

“In Italy, they are looking for a different kind of knowledge. They look at how well you can throw a pizza and technique is just as important as flavour. In Italy, pizza is a religion for us.

“The judges asked me to come back next year. I made it to the finals and wasn’t far behind the overall winner in points, so next year, they need to look out!” said Otello.

The Dairymont Australian Pizza Championships was founded with the aim to encourage culinary innovation within the pizza market. The competition is now firmly entrenched across Australia, giving pizza-makers a truly International competition.

It has become so popular that entries for the 2019 Pizza Championships at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre will open in August this year.

Otello is the mastermind behind Twin Towns’ popular and creative range of pizzas in Flame and his authentic family recipes are a feature of the Gusti d’Italia menu.

If you spot Otello around the Club, congratulate him on an amazing effort on the national pizza stage. We can’t wait to see what he cooks up for the National Championships in Melbourne in 2019 but no doubt, Otello is already planning a spectacular new pizza creation for the judges.