Fresh off being crowned the ‘Best in Australia’ by recently established association Pizza Connection Australia, Johnny Di Francesco is preparing to show the world how far our nation has come in producing high quality, authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Johnny, who is the owner and pizzaiolo (pizza maker) of awarding winning restaurant 400 Gradi on Melbourne’s Lygon Street and the soon to be opened 90 Secondi, has done a great deal to promote the Australian pizza industry to the world.
From 19-21 March, he will attend the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas; before travelling to Parma, Italy, in April, together with 10 pizza makers from Melbourne and Sydney, to compete in the World Pizza Championships, as captain of the Australian team.
Johnny’s pizza skills have resulted in many accolades throughout his career, and earned him the role of Australasian Principal of AVPN, an international association based in Naples which is dedicated to protecting and promoting authentic Neapolitan pizza. “It was started in 1984 by two third generation pizza makers in Naples who wanted to keep the Neapolitan pizza tradition alive around the world,” says Johnny. “It is the fastest growing pizza association in the world and now includes members in 20 countries.”
Johnny attended the International Pizza Expo for the first time last year, where he performed several demonstrations, including pizza making ‘acrobatics’ at the renowned Caesar’s Palace. This year, Johnny leads the Australian delegation, accompanied by another two Australian pizza makers.
“This expo is the biggest pizza event in the world. We’ll be performing a variety of demonstrations, and will talk about where pizza is at in Australia, along with where it is going. A lot of great things are happening with pizza in Australia, but overseas there is still a great deal of naivety,” says Johnny. “Hopefully we can help to put Australia on the map.”