In Business, Dining, News

By Jen Avison Smith

Alex White, owner of Downtown Las Vegas pizzeria Yukon Pizza, recently took home the gold at the 40th anniversary of the 2024 International Pizza Expo. White went up against 500 of the world’s best pizza artists to win the Non-Traditional Pizza category, a complete surprise to him.

“It’s a nice validation of all of the work we’ve put in [to Yukon],” he says. “It’s been a wild ride for sure.”

White spent a few months before the competition perfecting his winning recipe. A mouthwatering mix of balsamic grilled grapes, fontina cheese, mortadella, burrata, pistachio and almond crumbles, fresh basil and mint cinched the win for White.

His recipe was inspired by his love of red grapes and toasted almonds as a favorite snack, and being from Northern California, it served as an ode to West Coast-inspired fare.

The focal point to his creation was the wood-fired grapes soaked in white wine and balsamic. While he says they were his biggest challenge, they lend them- selves to the overall flavor profile of the pie. “The whole pizza is a layered extravaganza of flavor and texture,” White says.

After breaking into the top five spots – one of which was occupied by Las Vegas’s own Michael Vakneen from ØØ Pie & Pub – White spent the next couple of days sourcing his ingredients to compete on the final day.

“Because [I had] no restrictions, [I was] really up against the creative minds of everyone else,” he explains. “Everyone kind of has their own avenue to show off what they do.

“I really wanted to show off how fun Yukon Pizza is … we do things kind of off-the-wall, and we have fun, wild pizzas as an extension of the vibe we have at the pizza shop.”

The brand’s signature sourdough crust served as the foundation for White’s creation. The family business uses a 125-year-old heirloom starter to craft its crusts for favorites like “The Wiseguy” with sausage and roasted red bell peppers and “The Leon” featuring garlic confit and red onion.

Prizes included cash winnings and a trophy from the expo. Now the question remains: Will White return to the chef’s tables to go for a second win next year? For now, he’s encouraging his cohorts – and his wife – to enter the competition next year.

“I really want to see what they can do,” he says. “I didn’t expect to take the title home the first year that I competed, but now that I did, I can take a break for a year and let others get a crack at it.”

Three Questions With the Winner

What’s the most unconventional pizza topping you’ve ever seen?

I know people out there are doing things with squid ink … and putting that in the dough and making a black dough out of that. There are some really wildly inventive people out there doing some interesting things with pizza that make you turn your head.

What’s your personal favorite pizza topping?

There’s a lot of pizzas that I can eat every day. We have a pizza on our menu called the Sausage and Kale, it’s kale and sausage with mozzarella and chi- potle aioli. It’s a combination of crispy and vegetal, with the flavors of the sausage and the spiciness … it’s a winning combination for me every time.

The age-old question: Does pineapple belong on pizza?

I think it does. There’s a time and place for a lot of things.

If You Go

Yukon Pizza is open 12-10 p.m. daily at 1130 E. Charleston Blvd. (702) 509-6691; YukonPizza.com

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