Frenchman’s ‘fish soup’ pizza beats Italy to world cup crown

Frenchman Ludovic Bicchierai has been crowned the world's best pizza-maker thanks to a dish inspired by the French fish soup, bouillabaisse.

Frenchman's 'fish soup' pizza beats Italy to world cup crown
Frenchman Ludovic Bicchierai, centre, won top prize at Italy's pizza world championships. Photo: Campionato Mondiale della Pizza

Bicchierai, who works at the Pizzeria La Gusto in Sausset les Pins, just outside Marseilles, scooped top prize late last week after wowing judges with the unconventional seafood pizza at the 25th edition of the Pizza World Championships in Parma.

The pizza was topped with tomatoes, bream carpaccio, mozzarella, courgette flowers, prawns and Tabasco sauce – flavours the Frenchman says were inspired by Provençal cuisine.

“This is the second time I've taken part in the competition, but this year I thought I'd use the traditional French fish soup as my inspiration,” he said.

In order to get his hands on the prestigious pizza gong, not to mention a voucher for 1000kg of free flour, Bicchierai had to beat off competition from 650 pizza-makers from 35 different countries around the globe.

Non-Italians have only managed to scoop top prize in the contest twice before – in 2011 and 2015 – but nobody was begrudging the Frenchman his victory.

“Even though pizza is an Italian icon, it's always a pleasure for us to see foreigners walk away with the prize from time to time,” event spokesperson Patrizio Carrer told The Local.

While Italy missed out on first prize this year, second and third places were taken by two Sicilians, Alfio Russo and Niccolo Cusumano, from Siracusa and Messsina, respectively.

The Frenchman's victory came a week after an outcry was prompted by a French carbonara recipe video, which offended Italian viewers with its liberal interpretation of the authentic dish.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also fanned the flames of the two countries' food rivalry last week, by insisting that Italian wines had overtaken French ones in terms of quality.

For now at least, the French can lay claim to the world's best pizza-maker.

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Italy should ‘take back’ the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini

The Mona Lisa, the world's most famous painting, should be brought back home to Italy from France, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, before clarifying he was joking.

Italy should 'take back' the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini
Photo: Wikicommons
His comments come as French-Italian relations have nosedived following a series of rows over illegal immigration, domestic policies and personal attacks directed at French President Emmanuel Macron. 
“I announce that we're working with the French ambassador to take back the Mona Lisa,” Salvini said at a press conference to announce events commemorating 500 years since the death of the artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci.
“It would be more convenient for everyone who wants to see her up close,” said Salvini, who is also interior minister.
“Joking apart, obviously, we don't need more international crises.” 
Photo: AFP
Da Vinci was born in the Medici-ruled Republic of Florence in 1452 but died in France in 1519.
Salvini said he would visit Da Vinci's Last Supper fresco in Milan before May 2nd, the date of the Renaissance polymath's death.
“As for the Mona Lisa, as long as she is in Paris, that will take a bit longer,” Salvini said.
The painting, whose mysterious smile has long captivated artists and admirers, draws millions of people to the Louvre museum in the French capital each year.
France and Italy's relationship has soured since Salvini and populist leader Luigi Di Maio formed a government in June. The two governments have clashed on a variety of issues, including the Lyon-Turin train line, migrants and the loan of art works for this year's Da Vinci events. France in February recalled its ambassador after a series of “outrageous” statements by Italian officials.
On Wednesday the Italian government presented a wide-ranging schedule for celebrations to mark da Vinci's death over the next year.
“It's a holiday that will last all year and it's an opportunity for Italy to celebrate a genius, a genius that is ours, universally appreciated, so much so that the celebrations will take place around the world,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Dozens of events are planned until April 2020. A major exhibition dedicated to Da Vinci's scientific genius opened on Wednesday at the Scuderie del Quirinale palace in Rome, entitled “La scienza prima della scienza” ('science before science'). 

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP