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Celebrity Keynotes

Keynote 1 — Donatella Arpaia
"Iron Chef" Judge (Food Network) and Restaurateur

Tuesday, March 25: 7:45 – 8:45 a.m. (Room N247)

Restaurateur and television personality Donatella Arpaia has become an influential woman in the world of food, business, and entertaining.  She is best known for her recurring role as a judge on the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" and "Iron Chef America" and delivers dinner party tips and recipes as a regular contributor on NBC's "Today Show." Her background includes an education from the French Culinary Institute and the Italian Culinary Academy, but her love and understanding of classic Neapolitan pizza began long before that. She grew up in a family of restaurateurs: Her father and brother have owned and operated several in Long Island and New York City.

While Donatella was persuaded to graduate from law school, the profession wasn’t for her. Four months in, she persuaded her family that food was her passion, and she left and opened her first New York City restaurant: Bellini. It's been restaurants and entertaining ever since, with a cookbook ("Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous"), signature food and home products on the Home Shopping Network, and celebrity appearances on various networks among her other high-profile activities.

Donatella is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to restaurants, having opened eight in New York City and one in Miami. For the most part, the menus have featured upscale renditions of Italian regional cuisines. But it's Arpaia's most recent restaurant—given her own first name, Donatella, and described by the New York Times as a "glittery pizza parlor"— that gets her a top billing at Pizza Expo. Her pizzeria features a Neapolitan-style menu reflecting her father's native region, and she'll tell you about her journey back to her roots in this kick-off keynote to Pizza Expo 2014.

The Donatella Arpaia keynote is sponsored by Fontanini Meats (Booth 1327).

Keynote 2 — Sal Basile and Francis Garcia (The Pizza Cuz)
Cooking Channel Hosts and Artichoke Pizzeria Co-Owners
Wednesday, March 26: 7:45 – 8:45 a.m. (Room N247)

Many have heard the call, but only two have been chosen—at least by a national TV cable network—to travel the U.S. in search of the country's best and most unusual pizzas. Cousins Sal Basile and Francis Garcia, who grew up in the family's Staten Island restaurant and now own five Artichoke Pizzerias in New York City, were selected to do just that by the Cooking Channel, resulting in the "Pizza Cuz" series that begin airing in May 2013.

The cousins' travels have led them to the classic pizza makers of New York, New England, Detroit and other locations. They've also tasted the unusual, including a particularly memorable Indian pizza in San Francisco made with turmeric in the crust and topping that included curry powder and tandoori chicken. Sal and Francis have their own signature pie, the Artichoke, that has created a cult following, and they offer a crab pizza as well as their own spin on the Margherita that combines traditional Neapolitan and New York styles.

The Pizza Cuz bring to their Pizza Expo appearance a passion for pizza, their knowledge of the craft as pizzaioli and tales of their pie-searching travels. Plus a chummy sense of humor. When interviewed by an online publication shortly before their Cooking Channel show began airing, they were asked how they celebrated when they learned that they would have their own cable TV show. The response: "We ordered Papa John's."