There’s more to pizza than delicious food you know! Dubai is hosting the world’s greatest pizza acrobats. What are pizza acrobats you may well ask? Basically its when pizza makers fling discs of dough in the air to make the base light and fluffy. Except at this event at Mercato, no one is going to be eating the pizzas! What a waste.
The three pizzaiolos (pizza makers) from the Italian National Team of Acrobatic Pizza Makers who have been invited to take part share more than 50 years of experience in pizza acrobatics. They were invited to Dubai by theatre company, Saltimbanco Italiano, as part of the 20th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival.
The trio exhibit some amazing pizza skills such as spinning the dough on one finger.
“Pizza acrobatics started as a game,” says Danilo Pagano, a certified pizzaiolo and founder of the team with more than 30 years of experience in pizza acrobatics. “When we were making pizza in the pizzeria, we started doing some acrobatics with the dough. And then we saw the customers enjoying what we were doing.”
The discipline has mysterious origins, but probably began with bored pizza chefs messing around at work. Pagano began making pizzas at the age of 14 at his father’s pizzeria and formed a professional pizza acrobatics team in 1990.
“[Pizzaiolos] need to enjoy [the acrobatics] while doing them and to follow the rhythm of the music. Remember, it’s all up to the dough, not up to us. You have to handle the dough with care but with speed, because it breaks easily,” Pagano explains.
“Sometimes, the dough can do very well and we can work on it for 20 minutes. But sometimes, because of too much water or too much air-conditioning in the mall or whatever, the dough becomes difficult to work with.”
Alessandro Coluccino is a national pizza acrobatic champion. He says it takes a lot of hard work to be a champion.
“I started pizza acrobatics when I was 23. The first three years, I was training for five to six hours per day. Now I have less time to train because of the shows. But the shows are like training as well,” Coluccino says. Because the dough in itself could be tough sometimes, the tossing and turning and spinning requires a lot of energy, and in turn, helps the pizzaiolos burn a lot of calories.
“Pizza acrobatics may only take 15 to 20 minutes but because I’m following the music and concentrating, the mind and the body work together [as if you’re doing aerobics],” Pagano says, adding, “I sweat more when doing pizza acrobatics than when I go to the gym for two hours.”
Gross, I hope they don’t sweat on the pizzas!