Co-owner Brad Corbin wins unprecedented back-to-back Gourmet Pizza title to claim “Best of the Midwest”
Brad Corbin, co-owner of Sloopy’s Sports Café in Lakeside, notched an unprecedented back-to-back win in the 2013 Pizza Pizzazz Gourmet category on Feb. 17. Corbin, who co-owns Sloopy’s with business partner Mat Mangan, took home the $6,000 cash prize with an unusual strawberry-accented pizza named Paige’s Delight, and marked the fourth time that the restaurant has grabbed a top spot at Pizza Pizzazz. In addition to Corbin’s two wins, Mangan won the Traditional category in 2012, and Michael Speck, a previous Sloopy’s owner, won in the Traditional category in 2003.
The annual contest, operated in conjunction with the annual North America Pizza and Ice Cream Show and held at the Columbus Convention Center Feb. 17-18, allows winners not only to claim the title, “Best of the Midwest,” but reap a sales bonanza as pizza fans flock to their restaurants to taste those winners. Corbin, who won last year with a Japanese-inspired pizza named The Hibachi, said customers came to Lakeside from as far away as Athens, Ohio, to try the pie.
“Four people drove four hours to taste that pizza,” said Corbin. “Who does that for pizza when there has to be at least 500 pizza places on the way up? That says something about how important this is to customers.”
Paige’s Delight is made from a medium-thick, hand-tossed crust spread with a sauce made of pureed strawberry jam and a balsamic vinegar reduction. It’s topped with marinated chicken, apple-wood smoked bacon, red onions, a blend of provolone and mozzarella cheeses, and garnished with sliced strawberries and spicy chili sauce. The pizza sells for $20.99 (16 inch); $15.79 (12 inch); $10.49 (9 inch) and $6.29 (7 inch).
“We like to do things that are a little outside the box but that taste good and get customers to try something different,” said Corbin, who stressed he’s not a trained chef, rather just a cook willing to experiment. He added that he and Mangan will now have a little extra spending money for their April trip to the World Pizza Championships in Italy, where both will compete. “We came up with the idea just playing around with different things and seeing what worked together. I’m also a fan of watching cooking shows, so maybe I’ve learned through the television, too.”