Findlay's Brian Edler lofts and twirls pizza dough as it is stretched to meet the demand of a waiting customer in Defiance.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge
FINDLAY - The world's fastest pizza maker delivers hot pies to hungry diners in three northwest Ohio cities.
Brian Edler, who owns Domino's outlets in Defiance, Fremont, and his hometown of Findlay, can lay claim to the "fastest" title after his performance last week at the 2005 World Pizza Championship in Salsomaggiore, Italy.
Starting with five dough balls, each weighing seven ounces, Mr. Edler stretched them over screens into five perfectly round 12-inch pizza crusts in 37 seconds, an event record that earned him a gold medal.
"I wanted to be fast enough so I could make a mistake but still win," he said. "One of them had a hole in it, and I fixed it."
Mr. Edler, 39, has been honing his skills with dough, sauce, and toppings since 1981, when he went to work for a pizza place in the Huron County town of Plymouth.
He said he enters state, national, and global pizza contests because he enjoys competing.
"I like making great pizzas fast," he said. "I focus on it every day to get where I'm at."
Last week's competition was Mr. Edler's third straight appearance with the U.S. Pizza Team.
His list of national awards includes a first-place finish in January, 2003, at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show in New York, where he formed five 12-inch pies in 20.3 seconds.
His time in that event was nearly twice as fast as last week's mark because the global competition uses dough that's made from low-gluten flour, which tears easier than the high-gluten variety normally used in this country, Mr. Edler said.
To prepare for the competition in Italy, Mr. Edler practiced with low-gluten flour similar to that used to make that country's Neapolitan-style, crispy thin-crust pizzas.
"The whole thing was to slow down to be faster, because I did it here in 20 seconds, but if you go over there and try to do it in 20 seconds, you screw up," he said. "All of my practice was geared toward the harder dough.
"It ended up paying off big time."
While in Italy, Mr. Edler also competed in the dough-stretch competition, an event he won in New York in November. At that show, he stretched about a pound of dough to 50.75 inches without tearing it.
Mr. Edler was the only northwest Ohio representative on this year's U.S. Pizza Team, but a Northwood pizza shop owner hopes to join him in Italy next year.
Aaron Bailey, who co-owns Bailey's Pizza Co. at the Woodville Mall, placed third in the freestyle acrobatic dough toss competition at a U.S. team trial event last week in Milwaukee.
Mr. Bailey, who likes to entertain customers with pizza-tossing displays, will compete in New York this November for a spot on the U.S. team.
Mr. Edler, in the meantime, plans to take full advantage of his world speed title.
"It gives me bragging rights," he said. "I'll definitely use it in my marketing, at least for a year. It'll be on everything I put out."
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