March Madness, Pagliacci style...

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This weekend hordes of people ventured out to watch tributes battle in a match that would see only one winner emerge victorious and return home a hero to many. Pagliacci was not exempt from this phenomenon either. No, we didn’t take our pizza people to see The Hunger Games.

This weekend saw our annual Best Cook Competion kick off with a slight twist. Instead of the 64-person bracket, we asked each store to nominate a tribute, er, competitor to represent their district, I mean store. We told the managers they aren’t eligible to compete and let the best of our crew duke it out for the title of Best Cook in Pagliacci.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between Pagliacci’s 2012 March Madness and The Hunger Games:

Pagliacci The Hunger Games
Geographical Divisions 22 Stores 12 Districts
Number of tributes 1 per store 2 per district
Method of choosing tribute Store nomination Weighted lottery
Battle location Delivery kitchens Custom arena with built-in disasters, genetic mutants, killer wasps
Battle to the _______. Fastest, best cheese pizza Death
Training method Feeding the people of Seattle Training sessions with masters of deadly arts
Training meals Pizza Lamb stew with dried plums and other creations conjured up instantly
Meals during battle Pizza Roots, berries, fish, nothing
Most dangerous weapons Pizza cutters? Swords, bow and arrow, knives
Number of battles 2 rounds As many as it takes
Winner gets __________. Pride, title of Best Cook, feast for store Life, house, food and money for life, feast in Capitol, nightmares

Our first weekend had tossing competitions at our Bridle Trails and Miller Street Delivery Kitchens. The Eastside fully embraced the competition. Miriam “Cinna” Woodruff not only competed but she designed shirts for herself and each member of her entourage. Our Crossroads Delivery Kitchen is the closest thing we have to District 1 – chock full of professional tributes. Crossroads has put at least one person in the Final Four every year of the competition so expectations were weighty on Quinn “Cato” Ressler. For better-or-worse, he brought along GM Paul “Haymitch Abernathy” Williams – a former March Madness winner. Paul could show Quinn the way to win, but it would be a lot for Quinn to let down a former champion who hand selected him. Other participants included an aunt/nephew battle between Hugo Uitzil-Tun (Juanita) and Marlene Tun-Gil (Bellevue), a returning competitor from last year’s Final Four – Zach Lindner (Main Street), and Elliot “Thresh” Jensen (Edmonds) – the most physically imposing competitor.

The competition rewards a combination of speed and quality and the times were fast. Most competitors got a cheese pizza tossed, sauced, topped, and launched in 33-38 seconds. Hugo posted what would be the fastest time of the weekend with a 28-second effort. Once the final tally came in, however, Hugo found himself just 1 point behind Quinn and just ahead of his aunt, Marlene. Those three had to wait to see what the Seattle stores would do at Miller.

The expectations at Miller were that the busy Seattle stores would beat up on the outlying Eastside stores. Some of our busiest locations are in Seattle and the crew have had plenty of reps to hone their craft. Sam Snyder had home-store advantage. Camilo Lucatero (West Seattle) started for us in 1997. Mikael Croy (Sand Point Way) continued to be the best dressed competitor, rocking a dress shirt and vest that complemented his Mohawk. Also in the field was Jon Obrycki from our busy 85th Street Delivery Kitchen.

Pre-match expectations don’t always bear out and that was the case with Sunday’s competition. Nerves might have been higher as times were higher. With each grading it looked like all of the Eastside’s scores would hold up. In the end, Jon Obrycki was able to edge his way into the Final Four.

This Saturday afternoon at Bridle Trails the Final Four (Quinn Ressler, Hugo Uitzil-Tun, Marlene Tun-Gil, Jon Obrycki) will be lured to the Cornucopia, I mean toss table, to see who will be the best cook in all of Pagliacci. 

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Camillo Lucatero of the West Seattle delivery kitchen sauces his pizza. Will he be fast enough to make the cut?

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Miriam Woodruff and her posse.

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Marlene Tun-Gil from the Bellevue Square Pizzeria preps her dough.

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Mikael Croy from the Sand Point Way delivery kitchen shows off his style.

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Quinn Ressler frorm the Crossroads delivery kitchen demonstrates his tossing form.

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Sam Snyder of the Miller delivery kitchen works on making the perfectly shaped pizza.

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Zach Lindner from the Main Street delivery kitchen tossing it up!

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Zane Rapinan represents for the Broadway pizzeria!