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Local pizza maker competes on Hulu’s ‘Best in Dough’

Foodies who tuned in Sunday for episode 6 of Hulu’s new pizza-making contest “Best in Dough” might have noticed a familiar face in Windsor pizza shop owner Leah Scurto.|

Foodies who tuned in Sunday for episode 6 of Hulu’s new pizza-making contest, “Best in Dough,” might have noticed a familiar face — Windsor pizza shop owner Leah Scurto.

Scurto opened Pizza Leah in Windsor in 2020 and has received praise for her thin-crust and square-pan pies.

No stranger to competitions, she’s earned international and national recognition for her pies. She’s won two world championships in Italy with the U.S. Pizza Team, as well as two national titles.

On the Hulu show, Scurto competed against two pizza chefs she knows well from previous competitions, Joe Carlucci from Alabama and Ali Haider from Los Angeles, although she didn’t know who she’d be up against until the day of the shoot.

The three pizzaiolos went head-to-head in a battle for the best pizza, starting with an “Out of the Box” challenge that required them to prepare a frozen pizza with their toppings and finishes, then the main challenge to create signature pizzas from scratch.

Guest judges, whose identities were also kept a secret from competitors until the day of filming, tasted and critiqued the pizzas. Judges were Los Angeles “King of Pizza” Daniele Uditi and award-winning bread baker Bryan Ford.

The episode was shot over three days in November after producers reached out to Scurto to be on the show. She was not allowed to talk about the results until the episode aired Sunday.

Scurto and Carlucci lost the competition to Haider, who baked his way to a $10,000 prize.

Though she didn’t win, Scurto said she has few regrets about the experience. The only thing she wishes she’d done differently was the “Out of the Box” challenge.

“I had no idea that was coming. It was the one thing we couldn’t plan for,” Scurto said. Before the show, she’d never cooked a frozen pizza.

Instead of being intimidated, Scruto used one of her award-winning recipes to top her frozen pizza with housemade Italian sausage, Calabrian chile peppers, cubed fontina, a drizzle of honey and orange zest.

According to Scurto, the producers wanted to keep the show as authentic as possible, so contestants’ reactions would be mostly candid.

“You just never know how they are going to edit it all together and put a storyline together for you. It was like eight hours’ worth of interviews, and they break it down and focus on each individual for maybe three to four minutes. So we sent a lot of photos, told a lot of stories, and you just don’t really know which direction they’re going to go with you,” Scurto said about the filming process.

Fortunately, Scurto said, the producers captured her and her fellow competitors accurately.

“People always say reality TV and cooking shows are manufactured, but I would say it's more composed than manufactured, especially with these producers. They didn't try to pull something out of us that we didn't want to give,” she said.

“It was a lot of fun,” she added, laughing.

As for future cooking competitions, Scurto is planning on competing again for the U.S. Pizza Team in Italy in April.

Kylie Lawrence can be reached at kylie.lawrence@pressdemocrat.com.

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