Pizza Chefs Contend for $30,000 in Search for Original Recipes Showcasing California Cheese

Tracy, Calif. – The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced the launch of the 2021 Real California Pizza Contest, its third search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, which will award prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open for entries by professional chefs and culinary students throughout the U.S.

Through September 9, participants can enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL California and Plant-Forward. Cal-Mex means recipes fusing flavors from California and Mexican cuisines, featuring Hispanic-style cheeses. The REAL California will incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes will emphasize the delicious flavor combinations of fruits, veggies and Real California Cheese.

This year’s contest introduces a new format to include innovative ideas from chefs beyond U.S. borders: international competitors. Winners of separate Real California Pizza Contests in China, South Korea, and Mexico will be invited to compete in a semi-final cook off for a chance to win a spot in the final U.S. cook off. These international chefs will compete in the same categories – Cal-Mex, Plant-Forward, and the REAL California.

“As the largest producer of Mozzarella and the second largest cheese producing state, pizza is an important foodservice category for California dairy. Expanding the contest to include international pizza chefs and operators reflects on the growth of the international market for pizza and includes countries where California cheeses and dairy products are available to culinary professionals,” said Bob Carroll, VP of Business Development for the CMAB. “We find tremendous inspiration in the creativity culinary professionals bring to their pizza creations and look forward to new ideas from our U.S. chefs and those beyond our borders. ”

Chefs desiring to submit a recipe can review the requirements and complete the entry at In addition to the recipe, contestants are asked to submit a short essay or video describing their personal and professional inspiration for their pizza creation.  The deadline for contest submissions is September 9, 2021.

Twelve U.S. finalists will be selected by a professional panel of judges to compete in a bake off on October 27, 2021, at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif. The international contingent of chef finalists will compete on October 26th with the winner joining the final bake off on the 27th. All finalists will win a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each. The winners in each category each will be awarded $5,000, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Interested chefs and culinary students in the U.S. can choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with milk from California’s more than 1,200 family dairy farms. For a list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and to enter online, visit

California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made exclusively with sustainably sourced milk from the state’s dairy farm families. California is a reliable, consistent source of dairy products used by chefs throughout the world. Check out the CMAB’s REAL Makers chefs who rely on California dairy for their dishes. 

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About Real California Milk/the California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy families and is one of the largest agricultural marketing boards in the United States. With a mission to increase demand for products made with Real California Milk, the CMAB has been promoting California’s sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs for more than 50 years.

The Foodservice Division of the CMAB supports foodservice operators and distributors that use Real California dairy products. The CMAB offers marketing and promotional support for foodservice operators that purchase dairy products with the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with 100 percent milk from California’s 1,200 family dairy farms.

For more information on sourcing cheese from California, please contact the foodservice team at 209.883.6455 (MILK), or visit