With lightning speed, Florinda Albarron of the Tomball, Texas CiCi's Pizza restaurant, stretched, sauced and baked a full buffet of perfect CiCi's pizzas to win the second annual CiCi's Pizza Throwdown finals, held in Frisco, Texas, Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Ultimate Pizza Artist Albarron, a Houston resident, will receive an all-inclusive trip for four to Universal Studios in Orlando, $2,500 in cash and the coveted Crystal Pizza Cutter award.
CiCi's also has emblazoned her name on a CiCi's distribution truck that will travel more than 100,000 miles in 2012 making product deliveries to CiCi's restaurants across the nation.
With a time of 23 minutes, 28 seconds, she set a new overall company record and bested three other Throwdown finalists to win the title. Other results include:
- Second place: Beatriz Segundo of Kansas City, Mo., whose 25-minute, 16-second time topped last year's Ultimate Pizza Artist's winning time, will receive a Blu-ray disc player and $1,500. Her coworker, Elizabeth Cruz, won the Throwdown last year in 25 minutes and 29 seconds.
- Third place: Jorge Caballero of Marshall, Texas, who won the quality portion of the competition, wins a laptop computer and $1,000. He follows in the footsteps of his cousin, Martin Caballero of Lynchburg, Va,, who placed second in last year's competition.
- Fourth place: Jose Gomez from High Point, N.C., who was the Throwdown's fastest dough stretcher, will receive an iPod Touch and docking station and $500.
The four finalists competed in local and regional Throwdown events beginning in September, beating out a field of more than 300 to reach the Throwdown finals.
Albarron, who has been with CiCi's for 12 years, had a winning time that was three minutes faster than last year's top time.
Overall times for all four places were better than last year, demonstrating contestants' hard work and training for the event.
"We had a talented lineup in an exciting, highly competitive event, and we congratulate Florinda on winning the coveted Crystal Pizza Cutter award," said CiCi's Pizza Director of People Development Chris Patterson. "She demonstrates the values and skills that have made CiCi's one of the nation's fastest growing pizza chains. We encourage our pizza artisans to start training now for next year!"
Places and times
- Florinda Albarron, 23:28
- Beatriz Segundo, 25:16
- Jorge Caballero, 25:34
- Jose Gomez, 26:31
Fastest dough stretching - Jose Gomez, 3:18
Fastest sauce and cheese time - Florinda Albarron, 5:10
Fastest cook time - Florinda Albarron, 4:57
Best quality - Jorge Caballero
Coppell, Texas-based CiCi's Pizza opened its first restaurant in Plano, Texas in 1985, and is now one of the nation's fastest growing pizza chains. The family-oriented restaurant, known for its pizza, pasta, salad, soup and dessert buffet, has about 600 restaurants in 35 states.