The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), Tracy, Calif., said it kicked off its 2022 Real California Pizza Contest, the fourth annual search for the best pizza recipes using Real California Cheese. The contest, which will award prizes totaling $30,000 for the most innovative uses of cow’s milk cheeses from California, is open for entries by professional chefs and culinary students throughout the United States

Through April 24, participants may enter recipes in three categories: Cal-Mex, the REAL Californian and Plant-Forward. Cal-Mex recipes incorporate toppings that fuse flavors from California and Mexican cuisines and feature Hispanic-style cheeses from California, the CMAB said. The REAL Californian will incorporate ideas inspired by the Golden State that showcase California cheeses and toppings. Plant-Forward pizza recipes will emphasize the delicious flavor combinations of fruits, veggies and California cheeses.

This year’s contest also will include innovative ideas from winners of separate Real California Pizza Contests in Mexico, who will compete in the final bake-off event at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif., the CMAB said.

“With more than 78,000 pizzerias in the U.S. and another 100,000 plus restaurants serving some type of pizza or flatbread, pizza is an important category for California cheese and dairy and a perfect platform for showcasing innovation with California’s award-winning cheeses,” said Mike Gallagher, business and market development consultant for the CMAB. “Expanding the contest to include international pizza chefs and operators reflects the growth of the international market for pizza. And Mexico is just one example of countries where California cheeses and dairy products are available to culinary professionals.”

Chefs desiring to submit a recipe may review the requirements and complete the entry at In addition to the recipe, contestants are required to submit a short essay describing their personal and professional inspiration for their pizza creation, the CMAB said. The deadline for contest submissions is April 24, 2022.

A professional panel of judges will select 12 U.S. finalists to compete alongside their colleagues from Mexico in the bake-off on June 22, 2022. All finalists will win a cash prize. Finalists who are not category winners will receive $500 each. The winners in each category will receive $5,000, the CMAB said, and the best overall pizza recipe creator will receive an additional $10,000 grand prize award.

Interested chefs and culinary students in the United States may choose from more than 250 varieties and styles of cheeses that carry the Real California Milk seal, which means they are made with sustainably sourced milk from California’s more than 1,100 family dairy farms. For a list of qualifying cheeses and cheesemakers, contest rules and to enter online, visit