The team at Valoriani UK is delighted to learn that one of our customers has turned dedicated ‘pizzathlete’ and is heading to Naples this week, seeking to bag gold for his Suffolk town of Beccles, by taking on the best in the world at pizza making.
Paul Jackson, co-owner of Oakfired at the Royal Oak, will be potentially the only British pizza maker representing the UK at the culinary ‘Pizza Olympics’ in Naples, taking place from July 8-10.
This is far cry from what Paul was doing back in 2016 and the year’s preceding that, when he had a career in local government.
Now, having determined that running Oakfired is far more entertaining, Paul has been in training and latterly limbering up beside the acclaimed eatery’s wood-fired Valoriani Igloo oven – as recommended by the organisers of the Pizza Olympics, the fastidious AVPN (Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana).
Valoriani wood-fired ovens (and even the gas-fired Verace) are recognised by the AVPN as masters of their trade, capable of cooking authentic Neapolitan pizza to their strict code.
The AVPN is the organiser of the prestigious Pizza Olympics, for which medals are available in five different ‘events’. These are the ‘Vera Pizza Napoletana’ category, plus Gourmet, Gluten-free, Deep-fried Pizza and Mastunicola. The latter was the very first pizza ever produced in the culinary delight’s spiritual home – Naples.
Valoriani hears that Paul is set to compete in the Vera Pizza Napoletana category, which rewards skills in the making and cooking of the apparently simple, but highly complex Margherita pizza. Its complexity is rooted in the fact that it has to be created to exact AVPN rules, from which there can be no deviation.
Paul is then also taking on the competition in the Gourmet’ pizza category. Interestingly, Gourmet pizza is an option that changes regularly on the Oakfired menu, so that different gourmet options are served up each month. We suspect one of these might have been honed to perfection for the prestigious contest.
Paul is part of a very elite group of chefs eligible for these awards, as all competitors have to be from AVPN-accredited eateries. Oakfired may well be the first-ever British entrant, as it was only the third British eatery to become AVPN-approved when it received its certification in autumn 2018, and only the 743rd worldwide.
Paul and co-owner Paul Williams are hoping that the whole of Suffolk will get behind them. We can certainly say that Valoriani is right behind you. In bocca al lupo, as they say in Italy!
To follow the news and be the first to find out how Paul fares in Naples, head to www.oakfired.co.uk