Food & Drink Pie high

Pizza makers and acrobats make spinning, stretching, and kicking dough a sport

Although it's hard to find a person who doesn't like pizza, few know that the pie is well on its way to becoming the world's next Olympic sport. The U.S. Pizza Team is a group of pizza makers and dough acrobats whose goal is to draw the world's attention to the talent and camaraderie of the pizza industry. Every year, the USPT competes at the World Pizza Championships in Salsomaggiore, Italy. Here the planet's best pizzaolos compete in a variety of pizza-related competitions, from pizza-making to dough-spinning.

At the Alamo Pizza Festival, pizza-dough acrobats will perform tricks, competing for Largest Dough, Best Pizza, and Fastest Pizza Maker and, ultimately, a place on the U.S. Pizza Team.

Chris Green, a trainer for the USPT, will perform acrobatic dough tricks at the Alamo Pizza Festival, held at Crossroads Mall on October 14-16. Along with public demonstrations, workshops, and, of course, pizza eating, the Alamo festival is an official regional trial for the USPT. Pizza hopefuls can compete for a spot on the team in the Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pizza Maker, or Best Pizza categories.

Green is currently a 22-year-old journalism student at the University of Mississippi. He is also the morning show disc jockey and program director for 92.1 Rebel Radio, a commercial station on the college campus. Green got his start in pizza about two years ago when he and his family traveled to Italy for the World Pizza Championships. When he saw people spinning dough and doing other tricks, he decided it was a skill he could learn. "I'm a very competitive person and at the time I could juggle, so I picked it up," said Green. He said he can whip dough around his side, kick it off his foot, over his shoulder, and down his arm, and can spin two sets of dough at one time. "It's great to have this pizza talent in journalism and broadcasting, because I always have a conversation piece," said Green. "It interests people because it's so random. The other day, they used a clip of my pizza spinning on Oprah. I think that's pretty cool."

Alamo Pizza Festival

5:30-8pm Fri, Oct 14;
10am-6:30pm Sat, Oct 15;
noon-5pm Sun, Oct 16

Crossroads Mall
4522 Fredericksburg

Green said he worked with real dough at a pizza shop for a short amount of time, but only because it was required for a spot on the USPT. "We make our own dough, but it's a high-gluten, high-protein, triple-salt recipe," said Green. "You have to use ice-cold water and keep the dough cold so it doesn't expand. You can't do the tricks with warm dough because it just stretches out." Competitors often practice with Throw Dough, a rubber pizza dough with comparable consistency used to practice pizza tossing.

Green said he doesn't usually compete in official USPT competitions, opting instead to train team hopefuls and appear at event exhibitions. "It's kind of an interesting situation, because my parents are the publishers of Pizza Marketing Quarterly `a pizza industry magazine`," said Green. He said his father wasn't too happy about his idea to take up dough spinning at first, but appreciates his son's talents now because he's useful for demonstrations and exhibitions. "I know it's just pizza spinning, but there's still some politics," said Green.

Green said all the practicing hasn't made him sick of pizza at all. He still eats it regularly; traditional pepperoni is his favorite.

By Nicole Chavez

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