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’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?