Huge congratulations are in order for Derek Sanchez of Mia Marco’s Pizza in Schertz, TX. Derek is one of my closest friends in the pizza world and now he’s the Caputo Cup champion in the traditional category. His restaurant is actually a food truck and his interest in pizza is relatively new. This is an incredible story of yet another great pizza maker who has developed something great because the took the time to research and experiment rather than merely pumping out pies according to a single recipe.
Derek and I first met when he and his pizza brother Joey took a pizza tour with me about six years ago. At the time, Derek and Joey had been fiddling around with pizza but the tour awakened a deeper pull for knowledge that led them on a path of experimentation and discovery. Over the years, I’ve gotten texts from Derek showing microscopic images showing yeast at different stages of fermentation. He’ll text questions about ingredients and methods, with follow-up result reporting just a couple hours later. Derek is really into experimentation and it shows in his incredible progress as a pizza maker these past few years.
Derek competed in the TRADITIONAL category, which means he was allowed to use a signature sauce, a cheese blend of his choosing, and up to two different toppings. Some pizza makers try to stretch the limitations to cram as much favor into the toppings as possible. Derek did just the opposite. He competed with a cheese pizza. No toppings and no crazy cheese blends or sauce preparations. He was simple and it won him the title.
The only complicated piece of Derek’s puzzle was his dough, which he made one week prior to the competition. He used Caputo Americana flour with General Mills All Trumps to achieve strength and durability. I watched him open the dough (from my vantage point as event emcee) and it was extremely smooth.
I even had a chance to grab a slice of the winning pizza. The crust was nice and open beneath its bronze shell. It was flexible yet sturdyReally a great pie.
It’s really cool to see a guy like Derek, who has worked so hard to hone his skills, take home a big award like this. But if there’s one thing I know about Derek, it’s that he won’t stop asking questions even though he won. His questions will just get better, as will his pizza.