This Burnley chef’s slice of success will take some topping after he helped himself to a prestigious national pizza award.
Antonio Vetrano came out on top in the English final of the UK National Italian Pizza Championships during a scintillating ceremony held at The Principal Manchester on Sunday.
The final was part of the annual English Italian Awards where Antonio, who owns both Ballaro in Burnley and Mondello’s in Crawshawbooth, also came runner-up in the Chef of the Year category for his work at Mondello’s.
Ballaro’s head chef Simon Widdup was also named runner-up in the same category while Nunzio Gargiulo, also for Ballaro, was a finalist in the Pizza Championships.
It was a victory that tasted all the sweeter for Antonio who came runner-up at the same Pizza Championships in 2016, where he was also a finalist in the Best Pasta category.
“I couldn’t believe it when they announced my name,” he said. “We had already been on the stage twice and so this time the judge said, ‘you might as well leave your chair up here’.
“It was an incredible night. I was jumping out of my seat when the announcement came. I know a lot of the chefs that I was up against and they are all incredible. It’s such an honour.
“We are a team here and all the nominations mean everything to us.”
Antonio had to cook his ‘Pizza Parmigiana’ from scratch the morning of the awards gala as he went up against 24 other chefs in a mouthwatering cook-off.
He will now face off against winner of the Scottish Pizza competition, announced in November, to see who is crowned the UK’s best pizza chef.
Ballaro co-owner David Hankinson said: “It’s an incredible achievement. Mondello’s has been open two years and Ballaro only opened in May.
“We were up against some really big, established restaurants from places like Manchester and Liverpool as well.
“To get nominated was a huge achievement in itself but for these two ‘little’ restaurants to do as well as they did, it’s just fantastic.
“Antonio’s winning pizza will be appearing on the menu soon.”