Leeds chef named Pizza Chef of the Year with his gluten free vegan pizza

A chef from Leeds has been named Pizza Chef of the Year for his gluten free and vegan pizza, the 'Millennial Special'.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 2nd December 2019, 1:40 pm
Mark Baber, chef and owner of Wood Fire Dine in Rothwell, has won Pizza Chef of the Year (Photo: Mark Baber)

Mark Baber, chef and owner of Wood Fire Dine in Rothwell, bagged the prestigious award at the national PAPA Awards in London on November 21.

The award-winning pizza is topped with butternut squash, vegan goat's cheese and vegan Cumberland sausage.

Mark's gluten-free base was described by the judges as "perfect, as good as the real thing" and the pizza will be added to the restaurant's menu early next year.

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The award-winning Millennial Special pizza will be added to the menu at Wood Fire Dine early next year (Photo: Mark Baber)

Speaking after the win, Mark said: "This has been the best day of my life. Just participating in the competition has been a dream but then to be named the overall Pizza Chef of the Year is just incredible."

Mark was required to make the Millennial Special in just 10 minutes live on stage during the awards and was the only chef to be shortlisted in all four categories.

He said: "It was incredible to be up there cooking, absolutely brilliant and I loved every minute. It was a bit of a blur because I was in all four categories!

"I was up there in my Leeds scarf and hopefully the Elland Road family will get behind me."

Pizza Chef of the Year Mark Baber in action at the PAPA Awards in London

Mark and his wife Victoria bought a wood fire pizza oven for their back garden five years ago and started selling their pizzas at local markets and catering for weddings.

The couple's artisan pizzeria, Wood Fire Dine, was opened with his wife Victoria just two years ago in a Grade II listed building on Commercial Street.

The 47-seat restaurant prides itself on its authentic hand making processes, using a traditional wood burning oven and hand-made dough to create classic Neapolitan pizza.

Mark said: "I was born and raised in Woodlesford so for us, Rothwell was perfect. It didn’t have anything like that so specialised and niche.

"The locals have been great and everyone has been so welcoming, it's been really positive.

"I think they like that somebody local is doing it, not someone outside the area. We try to keep everything we buy and sell as local as possible."