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Melbourne, Australia

When it comes to making the world’s best pizza, Australian Pizzaiolo don’t usually spring to mind – but one Aussie has changed that.

A master of his craft, Melbourne based Johnny Di Francesco was recently named the best in the world at The 2014 World Pizza Championships in Parma. His ongoing accolades have earned himself the loving nickname of ‘Mr. Pizza’ in his home country, and Johnny is well known amongst Australian food lovers for being one of the best in the pizza business. Johnny’s passion for Italian cuisine draws from traditional Neapolitan techniques, with his family originating from Naples.

With a host of award wins and a number of successful restaurants under his belt, Johnny has established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the local and overseas scene, and has helped to position Australian pizza on the international map. On invitation, Johnny spent much of early 2014 overseas to represent his home country in several key pizza events. The owner of the iconic 400 Gradi in Melbourne visited Paris, Las Vegas and Parma to share his expert knowledge and put his unique stamp on the international pizza domain. Johnny took out the number one spot at The World Pizza Championship this year for best STG (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (Specialita’ Tradizionale Garantita), pizza in the world. This was a monumental achievement and career highlight that saw Johnny gain national and international media attention. Closely following his international win, Johnny opened his second restaurant, Gradi at Crown.

Johnny’s dedication to making world-class pizza has also awarded him the coveted position of Australasian Principal of V.P.N, an international association based in Naples that is dedicated to protecting and promoting authentic Neapolitan Pizza. Only two chefs in Australia have been awarded this honor. As a result, Johnny is invited around the world to judge pizza making.

When he’s not cooking or judging pizza overseas, Johnny can usually be found working the pizza ovens at his restaurants 400 Gradi and Gradi at Crown, holding pizza masterclasses, or giving cooking demonstrations at festivals around the city.

“Having made pizza since I was 12, my passion for cooking has only intensified over time. I’m so blessed to be able to do what I love and I hope that joy infiltrates everything that I make,” Johnny says.

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