The King of pizza in Latin America is Colombian.

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Il re della pizza dell’America Latina è colombiano.

Il re della pizza dell’America Latina è colombiano.

The King of pizza in Latin America is Colombian.

Colombian Eduardo Castro won the Latin American pizza championship, in Argentina.

It was 1999 when Eduardo Castro, just 21 years old, touched down in Rimini, with the idea to devote himself to cooking. He started at the bottom, as a waiter at a restaurant where he had the luck to meet Davide Amaduzzi: a pizza-maker by vocation who was his first teacher, then friend, and today “fellow in follies”.

One afternoon, between one glass of wine and another, they made a decision to start their own business. At first they thought they would set up a project in Italy, however “Eduardo always thought he would go back to his country, and since we were close friends he invited me to Colombia,” Amaduzzi recounts.

When we got to Bogotà, we noticed that “there were a lot of pizzerias, but none of them had real Italian flavor and a price everyone could afford”. They saw an opportunity and made a decision to realize the dream in this city.

Their restaurant is called Da Quei Matti, and it just turned 10 years old. Initially, they started with an old place, local, hard to work flour, and an old makeshift oven that couldn’t manage high temperature cooking. Today they have seven places, use five-season flours, and Marana Forni wood-fired rotating ovens, “without which we would never have gotten to where we are today”, says Davide, who had fallen in love with them in Italy.

Actually, Da Quei Matti’s success was entirely unexpected, but they didn’t dream that then it would happen: the organizers, who had let tasters loose in the city, called them to select them at the competition. “So we packed our bags and we left for Buenos Aires,” says Eduardo

How did the championship begin?

“Initially there were 36 contestants after one pan test, one on the peel, and one gluten free. The only ingredient everyone had in common: tomato sauce; each contestant had to use their own ingredients.”

Then what?

“Then just 12 were left, and all of a sudden we truly set ourselves apart: the test was to make a pizza from your own country. So with Davide who gave me essential tips, we made a dish with salami, eggs, guacamole, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.” The special touch: rum-caramelized onion, all topped with Colombian music and a dance by Eduardo. “The surprise was clear. There were just six of us in the finale, and we had to make a pizza using at least three ingredients out of a box with 12 ingredients. We used seven: fresh tomatoes baked real quick, boar meat, oranges, ewe’s milk cheese, creamy cheese, guacamole, and a black pepper glaze.”

Apparently the key to a good pizza is a good balance between the ingredients: Eduardo Castro and his partner Davide Amaduzzi are pizza champions in Latin America.