Kyle Rosch, Director of Operations for Il Forno, located in the Brodhead Center on Duke’s west campus, continued his dominance in the annual Pizza Pizzazz competition by winning his third “Best of the Midwest” title. Rosch was one of 45 bakers in the prestigious pizza contest, emceed by Iron Chef America Judge, Mario Rizzotti, and held at the third-annual Mid-America Restaurant Expo in January at the Columbus, OH Convention Center.
Rosch’s winning pizza, The Heartland, includes a New York-style crust with tomato sauce, cup-and-char pepperoni, balsamic-caramelized onion, Applewood-smoked bacon, roasted red pepper, shaved pecorino-Romano cheese and basil. The Heartland will be available at Il Forno and Enzo’s pizza Co. beginning February 22nd through the end of spring semester.
Rosch credits his multiple wins to his awareness of pizza and understanding what the judges are looking for in a winning pizza. “I grew up 15 minutes from where the competition was held, eating at local pizza places in Columbus,” Rosch said. “I think I have a good understanding of what people like here, so I just stay true to that. I don’t go crazy or try anything too weird.”
Rosch also admits he’s a bit superstitious about what he wears to Pizza Pizzazz. When he first competed, he observed many competitors wearing chef jackets, which made him feel a bit underdressed wearing an athletic quarter zip and a ball cap. His victory that year changed his self-perception markedly. “I don’t want to mess anything up, so every year I get a new quarter zip, a new ball cap, and that’s what I wear,” he says, “It helps me relax and think.”
Rosch is also the Director of Operations for Enzo’s Pizza Co. of Durham, NC and Brenz Pizza of Chapel Hill, NC, Knoxville, TN, and Columbus, OH and specializes in the research and development of menu items for all of these restaurants that make up Brenens Restaurant Group. Rosch competes in nationwide pizza competitions in order to fine tune his craft and even competed in the World Pizza competition in Parma, Italy finishing in 3rd place for the American pizza category in 2017.
Since he began competing in 2016, he has earned three 1st place finishes, one 2nd place finish, and two top 5 finishes, nationally. The competitions bring top pizza chefs from across the country and generally range from 25-70 competitors per competition. “I enjoy competing in these competitions as I feel it helps me learn from the best in the industry and to be able to come back with new ideas to implement at our local operations. It’s fun to compete with others who come from big time pizza destinations like New York and Chicago and it’s even better that I am able to score so well and even win competitions outright. It shows how much our passion for excellence in our products comes through in the final product. We are so happy to be able to offer our award winning pizzas to the people of our community.”