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Meet Brisbane’s new pizza champion Stefano Spataro

Originally posted by Anooska Tucker-Evans on Courier Mail 13 May 2023

A Brisbane pizzaiolo has been named one of the top 100 pizza makers in the world at a prestigious competition in Italy.

Stefano Spataro of Paddington Italian restaurant Elementi competed against almost 450 pizza makers from 52 countries over three days in the highly prestigious competition, which has been running for 30 years.

“I was freaking out,” a humble Mr Spataro said of taking part in the contest for the first time.

“I was shaking at one point and one of the judges said to me, ‘Relax’.”

Pizzaiolo Stefano Spataro (centre) and his business partners Mauricio Zarate Castillo and Pedro Hugo Lima Sanson at Elementi in Paddington. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Despite his nerves, TV and camera crews recording his every move and judges watching over his shoulder critiquing everything from his use of the oven to the cleanliness of his work station, Mr Spataro managed to finish in the top 100 in the premiere classic pizza category, beating out competitors from across the globe including America, Italy, France and Japan.

“I was so proud of myself,” he said.

“I was very happy to be part of that community because there are people out there that are amazing and it was really nice competing next to them.”

Impressively, Mr Spataro also finished within the top 40 for his gluten-free pizza – an amazing feat given he doesn’t usually make gluten-free pizza and his restaurant doesn’t serve one.

That pizza may just have to make its way on to Elementi’s menu now, though, said business partner and co-owner Mauricio Zarate Castillo, with the entire team “ecstatic” at Mr Spataro’s success.

“We’re just really proud of him,” Mr Zarate Castillo said.

“It’s an honour to work with someone who’s so passionate about what he does.”