Papa John’s Enlists Celebrity Judges for Final Round of Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge

Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge

Image courtesy Papa John's International, Inc.

Papa John’s Pizza announced yesterday that it has chosen television personalities Ted Allen and Rich Eisen to help choose three finalists for Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge.

The award-winning restaurant currently has eight specialty pizzas on its menu, but looks to add one more with its latest original recipe contest.  The competition, which began on April 26, challenges customers to create their own, unique specialty pizza, using up to seven items from a list of ingredients already used in Papa John’s kitchens.

Allen and Eisen bring with them not only star power, but also credibility to the judges’ panel.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Ted Allen began his career in journalism by writing food and restaurant reviews for a Chicago chain of weekly newspapers.  He has since gone on to write several books on food, including New York Times Best Seller, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab Five’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better and Living Better (Allen served as the food and wine specialist on the Emmy-award winning television show) and The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes (which devotes an entire chapter to “the Munchies: Pizza and Sandwiches”).  Allen also frequently appears on food-related television shows including Bravo’s Top Chef and Food Network’s Iron Chef America — he has served as a judge on every season of both shows — as well as Chopped, which begins shooting a new batch of episodes this fall.

Also a journalist, author, and well-known TV personality, Rich Eisen brings a different authority to Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge.  After serving as lead anchor on ESPN’s SportsCenter for seven years, Eisen moved to the NFL Network, where he currently hosts two programs, including flagship show NFL Total Access.  Eisen is described as the face of the NFL Network, has earned two Emmy nominations for his reporting there, and his NFL News bio claims that he was the first broadcaster added to the channel’s staff.  According to an official release touting the two new judges, Eisen “will represent pizza fans across the nation who anticipate great games and great pizza while tuned into football.”  Since Papa John’s recently secured a deal to become the official pizza sponsor of the NFL and the Super Bowl through 2012 (in addition to its existing sponsorships of eleven individual NFL teams), football fans play an invaluable role in the success of the world’s third-largest pizza company.

Allen and Eisen will join four other judges — including Papa John’s executives and a pizza blogger — at an official tasting event on June 29, when they will sample the creations of ten semi-finalists before selecting three finalists, whose recipes will go on sale at all Papa John’s locations for a month, starting August 2.

The winner of Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge will earn free pizza from the restaurant for life (payable as one $480 gift card a year for fifty consecutive years), 1% of net sales of his or her creation for a year, and round-trip accommodations to Louisville, Kentucky, where they will star in a Papa’s in the House commercial alongside company founder John Schnatter.


[Papa John’s on Facebook]

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