AVPN Australasia

Interview with Antonio Pace, AVPN President

Interview with Antonio Pace, AVPN President


Q: President Pace, when the AVPN - Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana was born and what was the purpose of the association?

A: The goals is always the same since the creation of the Association in 1984: to protect the recipe of the Neapolitan pizza, educate people on its origins coming from the city of Naples, and demonstrate to the world the right way to make pizza. We have created a pizza training school in which everybody from around the world can learn how to make a real Neapolitan pizza. We have delegations around the world: America, Japan, Australia, Brazil ... serving to teach the art of making pizza. Today the Association is present in five continents and 28 countries…sorry 29. In February we put a flag in Bangkok.

Q: How many members are recognized by AVPN has and how does one become a member?
A: Currently the association counts 650 members. They are not so many because the brand Verace Pizza Napoletana is not for sale, you have to conquer it. On our websites you can find all the information explaining how to become a member: the applicant must show the ability to make a Verace Pizza Napoletana. First with documentation (photos and videos), then, during a site visit, making a pizza in front of us. Only after that we concede the brand and the signboard. Beware though, everything remains as a property of the Association. We can suspend and cancel the member anytime. Nowadays, around the world, we have suspended eight members and withdrawn another six. When the pizzerias change the method and they are no longer interested in making Neapolitan pizza, we take back the trademark.

Q: Members must make only Neapolitan pizza or they can do other types of pizza?
A: Once, our members had to make just pizza. Today we understand that the market is changed and, what we ask, is to make sure to not create confusion between the Neapolitan pizza and other kind of pie. Members haven’t had to smuggle other types of pizza under Neapolitan pizza. If they do different style there must be a very clear distinction between the Neapolitan pizza and other types of pizza.

Q: There is also a register of suppliers approved by the Association. How do you become approved supplier and what is the relationship between them and the members?
A: We made a contract with the Federico II University of Portici and, with their collaboration, we made a regulation that lists the characteristics of the products that can be part of the Verace Pizza Napoletana. Companies that want to join the Register have to send a sample of their products at the University, who analyzes them. Only if they reach our standards, the products can be inserted in the register. This Register of the Approval Suppliers is not compulsory for the members, but it is a useful guide. When somebody has to buy some products, they can choose suppliers among those found in the register, which products have been certified, while using other suppliers, they may have to take a risk.
In 2014 the companies listed in the register have exported about 180-200 million euros, mainly because of our associates around the world who buy their products having the guarantee that they are buying the right ones to make the Verace Pizza Napoletana. If some companies change their products, they can be removed from the register.

Q: What is the secret of True Neapolitan Pizza, and how to recognize it?
A: Neapolitan pizza has a very clear system of production. It is a round soft pizza with a “cornicione” (crust) outside. If you push the cornicione and it returns to its original position, you can continue to eat the pizza; if not, give up, because you are not eating a Neapolitan pizza. Then the pizza must be well cooked with a brown color, but not too dark. There shouldn’t be too many burns and it must remain soft so that it bends. It must never become hard or crunchy. For the Margherita pizza we created an exceptional set of ingredients: mozzarella, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, a basil leaf and, in Naples, (but only in Naples) we put a sprinkle of grated cheese. I think it is difficult to create another pizza with a better taste. Neapolitan pizza is famous because it is good, while the Neapolitan pizza chefs are requested because they are the best and belonging to an old school. We promote the pizza and Naples. If outside Naples you can find a good pizza, this is the success