Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

World pizza acrobatics champion serves up a slice of fun in Dubai

Pasqualino Barbasso believes in adding a dash of entertainment to the foodie experience

Italian chef Pacqualino Barbasso shows off his skills at Gulfood in Dubai. Pawan Singh/The National
Italian chef Pacqualino Barbasso shows off his skills at Gulfood in Dubai. Pawan Singh/The National

They say you should never play with your food, but that hasn't stopped Pasqualino Barbasso from serving up a slice of entertainment that's tough to top.

The Italian chef showed off the nifty skills that have twice made him the Pizza Acrobatic World Champion at Gulfood, an annual food industry conference being held in Dubai.

The crowd-pleasing pizza maker proved a smash hit as he twirled, tossed and even juggled a his favourite culinary creations - including one a massive two metres in diameter - to the astonishment of onlookers.

Mr Barbasso starting crafting pizzas 20 years ago, but eventually found the missing ingredient was fun.

"In the beginning I just made pizzas but I felt the need to improve my work, and make it more exciting,” said Mr Barbasso.

"I participated in a few competitions and won some important titles, and became pizza world champion in acrobatics."

Performing acrobatics with a pizza may have started as a joke, but quickly turned into a passion for the chef.

Mr Barbasso has travelled around the globe showcasing his talent at events.

"When I started acrobatics with pizza, there was no YouTube or Google. So, I just trained every day," said Mr Barbasso, who was mentored by senior pizzaiolos in Sicily.

"Dubai is one of my favourite destinations. In Dubai, people love pizza.

"The Italian food in Dubai is very nice, and it is possible to find all the regional Italian food.

"In Dubai, you can find all kinds of pizza styles."

Pacqualino Barbasso threw a pizza party in Dubai. Pawan Singh/The National
Pacqualino Barbasso threw a pizza party in Dubai. Pawan Singh/The National

He advised pizza makers in the country to add a dash of entertainment to their cooking skills, and has even trained a few.

"The acrobatics adds balance to the experience of having a pizza," he said.

"It’s important to know how to make a good pizza, but if you add a little bit of entertainment and show, that is a plus."

When performing in Dubai, he said people prefer to eat the pizza of his choice, usually crafted with some fresh cheese such as burrata.

"A good pizza must have the right balance of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein," said the chef.

Updated: February 19, 2020 06:21 PM

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