March. Spring Break. Major League Baseball Spring Training. March Madness.
All things I love and look forward to each year as the final vestiges of winter make their way out and the winds of change usher in sunshine and spring.
And, then, there’s this little thing called International Pizza Expo.
For nearly half my life now, March has predominantly meant one thing above all to me: Expo month. Board the plane, touch down in Vegas, bask in the warm sunshine that instantly lifts my spirits, hit the famed Strip for some great food, relax in the hotel with a sense of anticipation that creates butterflies in the stomach, get up early the next day to head to the Convention Center and then, suddenly — BAM! We’re in the thick of it. Game on. The floor opens, the crowd pours in, the charge in the air amplifies and it’s a furious, non-stop barrage of hugs, pats on the back, downed pizza slices, brokered deals, new connections and a million tiny little moments that coalesce into meaningful memories that buoy the greatness of the pizza industry.
There’s that unexpected greeting from a pizzeria operator from Indiana as you step off the hotel elevator; the chat with the Pennsylvania pizzeria owner at 6 a.m. after a sweaty run while you’re waiting in line for coffee before you hit the shower, the late-night drink with your pizzeria owner buddy from Seattle just because you want to catch up on how his family and business are doing and didn’t have time on the Expo floor that day when you bumped into him because there was a line of attendees waiting to talk to you about a demo, seminar or article in the magazine. It’s nonstop. You’re on your game 24/7. You don’t slow down until you get home.
And I love every minute of it. I’m more than 20 Pizza Expos deep now, and the luster of the industry’s most important event hasn’t faded. And if it hasn’t by now, it never will. It has become a part of my identity.
Hi, I’m Jeremy: the writer, the CrossFitter, the runner, the foodie, the baking enthusiast, the baseball lover, and above all the pizza freak who giddily hops about at Pizza Expo like a child that has been given one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
Last March hit me hard. I never could have imagined a spring without a Pizza Expo. This March the old familiar pang remains, but it won’t leave a scar this time. That’s because this March there’s hope. Pizza Expo is but a few short months away in June. A promising vaccine to combat the devastating impact of COVID-19 is getting out to the public. We’re weary, we’re battle worn, we’re scarred … but we’re also battle tested. We’re hungry. We’re motivated. We’re putting our heads down and grinding. Together. We’re #PizzaStrong.
So while I won’t see you in Vegas this month, I’ll see you soon. And it’ll be epic.
Editor In Chief