My cooking career began when my husband, Bob, transplanted our family from Connecticut to Germantown, Tennessee in the summer of 1994. When we moved here, one of the first things I did was search for the best pizza in Germantown. Pizza was a BIG part of our weekly family dinner. Unable to find anything that resembled the awesome New Haven, CT style pizza, I began experimenting with recipes in the hope of developing the best New Haven style pizza possible. Since the only variable for pizza is water, I began importing my water from CT for my pizza. Voila…..I had success!!
Around this time I joined a neighborhood group called “New Neighbors of Germantown”. One day, one of my friends from that group told me she was headed to CT to visit family. I asked her to bring me back some CT water. She laughed and thought I was crazy, but she did bring me back the water. As a thank you I created an amazing pizza for her, which I delivered hot out of the oven. My friend was amazed at how great this pizza was, and asked me if I would teach the ladies in our organization how to make great tasting pizzas. That started “Cooking Adventures in Galena’s Cucina” cooking classes in my home. When my kitchen became too small for those interested in taking my cooking classes, I began teaching at a local cooking school, “Gift Horse”. Unfortunately, years later that school closed.
In August of 2002, I was hired by Viking Cooking School in Memphis as a Cooking Instructor, teaching cooking classes to the home cook. It didn’t take long before I became known as the “Pizza Queen” for my amazing pies. While teaching at Viking I applied for a cooking competition on Food Network’s show called “Ultimate Recipe Showdown”, hosted by Guy Fieri. My recipe: Crawfish & Andouille Sausage Pizza. I was fortunate enough to be one out of 10,000 home cooks chosen to participate on the show. Never did I think I would actually win! And I won big, $25,000 and $5,000 Food Network Products sold at Kohl’s. That was a life changing event.
Shortly thereafter I was approached by CBS’s affiliate WREG “Live at 9” to appear as a guest chef demonstrating my recipes. I continued to make guest appearances on “Live at 9” for over 9 years. While teaching cooking classes at Viking, I was offered a position with ACH Food Companies as a Research & Development Consulting Chef. While with ACH, I developed new products and recipes for the company showcasing ACH Food products, Spice Island, Mazola, Weber, Fleishmann’s Yeast, and Tones. With the assistance of my boss, we developed a cooking book utilizing ACH Food Products.
My pizza and dinner party donations have raised over $40,000 for local charities.
In 2018, I officially retired from the corporate business world and started my own in home pizza party business.
This past March I traveled to Las Vegas and competed at the International Pizza Expo. International Pizza Expo is the largest pizza show in the world with more than 1,300 booths and 500 exhibitors and is held annually at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The competition draws over 200 competitors from around the world. I placed 26th in my division of 60 competitors.
Since then I have become a member of the U.S. Pizza Team. The U.S. Pizza Team was founded in 2000 with the goal of bringing competition and excitement to the pizza industry. Since its formation, the U.S. Pizza Team has participated in an international event every year, most frequently at the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy. Ranging from culinary masters to dough tossing phenoms, the Pizza Team renews the passion of those in the industry year after year.
My recipes for my several of my pizza creations will be featured in upcoming issues of PMQ Pizza Magazine, as well as appearances on PMQ Pizza TV. PMQ Pizza Magazine is the world’s authority on pizza and the No. 1 business publication for the pizza restaurant industry. With 10 issues each year, PMQ reaches the mailboxes of 40,000+ pizza pros. PMQ also has a video production department, PizzaTV. PizzaTV brings you the latest pizza news, interviews, product spotlights and more. From business tips and strategies to pizzeria profiles.
Member of U.S. Pizza Team
Recipe developer for “Cooking for a Living”, ACH Cookbook utilizing ACH Food Products
Winner of Food Networks “Ultimate Recipe Showdown”
Winner of Pizza Therapy Worldwide Pizza Recipe Contest
Frequent guest chef on CBS affiliate morning show, WREG Channel 3
Raised over $40,000 for charity by donation of dinner parties
Creator of www.foodsinthefastlane.me cooking blog & www.gailspizzaparties.com