Whether you were in the mood for cheese and sausage or a fruity pie, the 18th annual Great Pizza Bake-Off was a feast for the eyeballs and the stomach Sunday at the Brat Stop’s Parkway Chateau.
The event, a friendly contest and fundraiser for the Noon Optimist Club, featured a dozen pizza purveyors, offering everything from the traditional to the non-conventional, such as tater tots and even peach cobbler.
Participating were Baker Street, the Brat Stop, Dolce Vita, Jimano’s, Luigi’s, Marco’s, Parkway Chateau, Pizza Hut, Rocky Rococo, Sam’s Club, Toppers and Valeo’s.
A panel of celebrity judges handed out awards, and there was also a popular vote. This year’s judges were Jake McGhee, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, Kenosha News Publisher Randy Rickman, WISN morning news anchor Andy Choi and WLIP’s Wake Up Team of Bill Lawrence and Pete Serzant
For Bernadette Smith and her family, the event has become an annual rite, a gateway to the many festivals in the Kenosha area they enjoy attending.
“This is the first festival celebration of the new year,” said Smith, who was among about 800 people who attended this year’s event. “We love this because we know when the bake-off comes around, that means warm weather is coming. And, we love pizza.”
Smith’s sons, Liam, 7, and Preston, 8, enjoyed the mac-and-cheese pizza from Toppers, while she indulged in the caramel, frosting and brownie bites of Baker Street’s dessert pizza.
Kristina Dahl of Kenosha said she looks forward to the event because of Jimano’s thin-crust sausage pizza, but was pleasantly surprised with the Italian beef and jardiniere offering.
“That just blew me away,” she said.
Brittanie Hood of Kenosha sampled Valeo’s buffalo chicken pizza, but said she enjoys its traditional cheese and sausage. She was also impressed with Baker Street’s banana split offering and another peach cobbler, complete with whipped topping.
“It’s really good,” she said. “But with all these, you can’t go wrong.”
Funds for kids
The bake-off, which is in its third year at the Parkway Chateau, is an effort that raises funds for Noon Optimist’s programs and scholarships, including the Boys & Girls Club’s annual “Youth of the Year.,” according to Jo’EL Pearlman, chairwoman of the bake-off, which also featured raffles and prizes.
Proceeds also benefit more than a dozen other programs, including leadership and community development for Junior Optimists. At the event were student members of Randall’s Junior Optimist Club who sold baked goods and beverages and who were among the dozens of volunteers.
Pearlman said the event — which outgrew its former home at UAW Local 72 headquarters — draws people from many corners of the community.
“They’re bringing their friends, family and their neighbors,” she said. “Every year, we have been more and more blessed with people attending and helping more and more children.”