Emma Valentin, Award-Winning Pizzaiolo
13 November 2023

Emma Valentin, Award-Winning Pizzaiolo

We sat down with ‘France’s Prettiest Pizza’ 2019 winner Emmanuelle Valentin to discuss all things pizza – what trends are emerging on social media and the role Instagram plays in attracting customers to restaurants.

Q. Tell us about yourself! How did your journey into the world of pizza begin?

I’ve always been passionate about cooking but I didn’t make a career from it until I was in my thirties. My husband and I decided to buy our first restaurant together and, with the help of our Head Chef, trained ourselves to cook at a professional level.

A few years later, we expanded the business by opening an Italian shop right next door to the restaurant. Eventually a lot of customers started asking for pizza, as there was no pizzeria in our town at the time. So we trained ourselves in the art of creating pizza and now six years later, the rest is history!

Q. Do you have a favourite pizza?

I don’t really have a favourite pizza, it depends on my mood! I enjoy all pizzas from meat based to vegetarian, as long as they are all cooked well, that’s the most important thing.

Emma Valentin, Award-Winning Pizzaiolo

Q. You’re known – and have won awards – for making beautiful looking pizzas. Which pizza do you believe is the prettiest you’ve ever made?

I would have to say that the most beautiful pizza I have ever made was for Championnat de France la Plus Belle Pizza’ (France’s Prettiest Pizza Championship). I wanted to create something different, something that would set me apart from other competitors. So, I developed a half-black, half-white pizza, aside from being beautiful it is my greatest achievement as technically it was incredibly difficult to master. I think, I attempted it 55 times before succeeding!

Q. Why do you compete in pizza competitions, and what does it mean to you to be part of these pizza competitions?

At the beginning it was a way for us to be judged by professionals in our industry. Over time, competitions have enabled us to grow and develop our skills, as well as extending our network of industry colleagues both in France and beyond.

Arla Pro Paris #3

Q. Where do you find inspiration and new ideas?

I look at the books of great chefs and I watch shows on TV and Instagram. I’m always on Instagram looking for ideas, but I’m not necessarily going to look for pizzas. I’ll first look for a dish, a starter or a dessert, and it’s that dish that will give me the idea of what to do on my pizza. Sometimes I simply take an ingredient and I say to myself, “today I’m going to use cauliflower”. You can do so many things with pizza, you don’t have to only use tomato with basil!

Q. How do you think about the composition when building a pizza?

Initially I want them to be beautiful – that’s always my starting point. I like to give the key ingredients that I have chosen a leading role, then make sure there is a taste balance between all of the other ingredients. I like my pizzas crunchy, flavourful and round. These three have to work in harmony.

Q. Have you seen a change in the impact that Instagram and other social media channels have had on the aesthetics of pizza over time?

Instagram has made pizza skyrocket in popularity. A good looking pizza is naturally ‘Instagrammable’, so I now see many chefs focusing on how their pizzas look in order to encourage their customers to want to share them. And, given that guests often decide what to eat with their eyes, you need to reach them before they visit your restaurant. You need to make them want to taste the pizza just from the picture.