At the first Pizza Wars, chefs from various California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) branches competed for P25,000.00 in cash and for their creative pizza to be included in CPK Philippines’ menu.

The finals, held at CPK in BGC, pitted three chefs and their three entry pizzas, each with very distinct taste profiles, against each other. The judges had a hard time. Bloggers, who were served all three “contestant” pizzas, had a “vote” – if their vote aligned with the judges’ decision, they take home the winning pizza (freshly cooked, of course).

Let’s go meet the chefs

California PIzza Kitchen, Pizza Wars, Romel Panaligan

L-R: Chef Lea Castillones from CPK Eastwood, Chef Romel Panaligan from CPK Alabang, and Chef John Chloe Oplejeda from CPK TriNoma.

And here are the pizzas

Each of the “contestant” pizzas is hard to say no to.

California PIzza Kitchen, Pizza Wars, Lea Castillones

Chef Lea Castillones’ Steak with Mushroom + Truffles Pizza: Mozzarella, fresh Mozzarella, wild mushroom, with truffle sauce and grilled steak. Our take on it: it has a woodsy flavor because of the mushrooms, and the hint of Truffle cream is very addictive. If you see this on the menu, you already have a good idea of how it tastes – but it will exceed your expectations! It’s an easy go-to favorite. We can order this everyday. 

California PIzza Kitchen, Pizza Wars, Romel Panaligan

Chef Romel Panaligan’s vegetarian pizza, Farmer’s Choice. Roasted squash base topped with Mozzarella, Fresh Mozzarella, grilled eggplant and zucchini, cherry tomatoes and desiccated coconut. Our take on it: it’s very close to ginataang Pinakbet, but in pizza form (clever!) and the aroma and flavor summon fond memories of your childhood. It tastes like home. Wow. Of the three, this is the most emotionally satisfying pizza. You know how you have your selection of feel-good movies? This here is your feel-good pizza.   

California PIzza Kitchen, Pizza Wars, John Chloe Oplejeda

Chef John Chloe Oplejeda’s The Elvis, a dessert pizza, inspired by the King of Rock & Roll’s favorite sandwich; it has peanut sauce, Mozzarella, crispy bacon, banana topped with candied walnuts and peanut butter gelato. Our take on it: it’s like you’re ten years old and you want every kind of dessert to be rolled into one, and in one plate and in a pizza. Well, here you go. The more the ice cream gets absorbed by the crust, the better it tastes. Incredible.   

Meet the Judges…in action

Chef Laudico, Griffith Go, Archie Rodriguez

Left to right, and tasting the competing pizzas: Chef Rolando Laudico, Griffith Go (GRCI CFO), and Archie Rodriguez (GRCI President & CEO).

Guess who won?

Romel Panaligan, Chef Rolando Laudico, Griffith Go

Farmer’s Choice (vegetarian pizza) by Chef Romel Panaligan of CPK Alabang got the highest marks from the judges – and it’s what we at SwirlingOverCoffee also voted to win; which means we also took home boxes of the same pizza, but freshly cooked by Chef Romel. What a great day it was for everyone.

California PIzza Kitchen, Pizza Wars, Romel Panaligan

L-R: Archie Rodriguez (GRCI President & CEO), 1st CPK Pizza War Winner Chef Romel Panaligan, Chef Rolando Laudico, and Griffith Go (GRCI CFO).

Visit California Pizza

For more updates, connect with CPK Philippines at, @CPKPhilippines in Twitter & Instagram or visit their location in Greenbelt 5, Shangri-la Plaza, Greenhills Promenade, Eastwood, Rockwell, Bonifacio Global City, Mall of Asia, Alabang Town Center, and Century City Mall.

California Pizza Kitchen, Pizza War, Chef Laudico

(L-R) Daniel Wilson (Int’l Franchise Brand Ambassador), Luisa Del Rosario (Sr. Operations Director), Archie Rodriguez (GRCI President & CEO, Contest Judge), Romel Panaligan (1st CPK Pizza War Winner), Chef Rolando Laudico (Contest Judge), Griffith Go (GRCI CFO, Contest Judge)

All photos by Irwin Allen Rivera


Liked this post? Follow us on Facebook.