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Pizza Week serves up twists on a classic dish

By Clara Sadler, September 24 2015 —

They say a good pizza consists of crust, cheese and toppings. But the dishes served up at YYC Pizza Week contain a whole lot more than that.

Starting on Sept. 25, restaurants across Calgary will create unique pizzas sold for $20. Participating restaurants and pizza connoisseurs are encouraged to explore the city to discover new restaurants, try outlandish pizzas and vote on their favourites, with winners announced at the festival’s conclusion. Three dollars from each pizza sold goes to Calgary Meals on Wheels.

YYC Pizza Week team member Cory Chapdelaine says the event was inspired by other food events taking place around the city.

“A Poutine Crawl has been done. YYC Burger Week has been done. I think the idea was, ‘what is a type of food that everyone eats?’” Chapdelaine says. “Pizza is something that’s very cultural and all age groups love it, so I think it was just a natural fit. The question was, ‘why isn’t there a Pizza Week?’”

Double Zero is serving a bacon and potato chip pizza during YYC Pizza Week. // Jason Herring

Double Zero is serving a bacon and potato chip pizza during YYC Pizza Week. // Jason Herring

This year’s pizza lineup includes classics like the meatball pizza from Una Pizza + Wine, as well as fancier pies like the smoked turkey, pear and goat cheese pizza from Dickens Pub. Restaurants are free to create and offer any type of unique pizza. Chapdelaine says the freedom helps restaurants catch public interest.

“Anyone can do a Hawaiian [pizza], and then there’s gonna be an argument over who has the best Hawaiian. But if you do something that’s never been done before, it’s really innovative,” he says. “[Last year there was] this this tropical Hawaiian
chicken pizza with saffron rice on top, and when we brought it to Mayor Nenshi to eat, he almost ate the whole pizza himself. I don’t think you’ll stand out with a normal Hawaiian pizza, no matter how good it is.”

Chapdelaine says including unusual pizzas gives people a reason to check out restaurants they normally wouldn’t eat at. Many restaurants experience increased business before and after Pizza Week.

“We were getting restaurants asking back in February when [the next Pizza Week would be],” Chapdelaine says. “We noticed a lot of pizza places in town started stepping up their menus and some of the ones around here are starting to be more creative on a daily basis.”

Pizza Week is encouraging increased variety by adding a new gluten-free pizza category. Chapdelaine says he hopes this initiative will allow more people to enjoy the festivities.

But Pizza Week isn’t limited to restaurants. There’s been a lot of community support for the festival, and Chapdelaine says plans are in place for more types of events in the future.

“We’re approaching community associations all over the city and we’re trying to get them involved one way or another. Whether it’s doing pizza crawls, or hosting pop-up pizza parties,” Chapdelaine says. “We’re supporting Meals on Wheels and we’re finding that everyone is stepping up. They want to support this charity.”

YYC Pizza Week will take place at 42 Calgary pizzerias and restaurants from Sept. 25 – Oct. 4.

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