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Joe Broadfoot, left, yells encouragement to Dawn Sela as he times her making pizza at Domino's Pizza on Glenn Street Southwest. Sela can make three pizzas in less than a minute. This coach and competitor team will travel to Las Vegas next week to compete for the title of 'World's Fastest Pizza Maker' at the Domino's worldwide rally.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Joe Broadfoot, left, yells encouragement to Dawn Sela as he times her making pizza at Domino's Pizza on Glenn Street Southwest. Sela can make three pizzas in less than a minute. This coach and competitor team will travel to Las Vegas next week to compete for the title of "World's Fastest Pizza Maker" at the Domino's worldwide rally.

Here we dough ...
Local Domino's employee competing for title of 'World's Fastest Pizza Maker'

By Andrea Brunty
abrunty@decaturdaily.com 340-2448

On your mark ... get set ... begin!

Thwap! A slab of dough slaps down on a wooden board. Yellow powder flies up in the air. Dawn Sela flattens the Frisbee-shaped mound, hand-stretching the raw crust around. Her hands knead in a circle faster and faster.

"Pick it up!" shouts Joe Broadfoot. "Gotta rock 'n' roll!"

Sela spreads the tomato sauce in one swoop, smoothing the paste with the large spoon to get an even consistency.

"Pretty sauce!" Broadfoot yells encouragingly.

Next she reaches for shreds of cheese, dumping handfuls on top of the sauce (and a little on the floor).

"More cheese at 12 o'clock," Broadfoot says. "Twenty seconds! Nice pizza!"

Sela slides back to her starting point as if she were gliding on a skateboard. She grabs onto the railing to stop her from falling. Only a pepperoni pizza and a mushroom pizza to go.

Sela, senior assistant manager at Domino's Pizza on Glenn Street Southwest, can make three pizzas in about 57 seconds, but she hopes to be even faster. Her speedy pizza-making skills at a regional level won her a free trip to Las Vegas to vie against 75 others for the title of "World's Fastest Pizza Maker." Domino's will hold the competition May 6-8 as part of its annual worldwide rally.

Sela, 26, began answering phones at Domino's about five years ago. She soon was put on the pizza line.

"I think I was doing pizzas in 2 minutes and 14 seconds," said Sela, about her first attempts. "I was making a lot of sloppy pizzas."

It was her coach, Broadfoot, North Alabama franchise operations director, who saw her potential.

"I saw so much talent in her. It's unbelievable," he said.

Broadfoot, who has been with Domino's for 22 years, competed for 15 years and was once 10th in the world.

But he's since passed on his lucky sauce spoon to Sela.

"Well, I let her use it," he said, joking that the spoon is just on loan.

Before the big event, Broadfoot and Sela plan to practice four times per week, making anywhere from 100 to 300 pizzas, he said. Broadfoot counts strokes and even videotapes practices to compare to last year's champion.

"Every minute thing that we can gain an extra second or so on, I'll find it," he said.

Though speed is important, it is only part of the recipe — quality is being judged as well. Pizzas have to be "sellable," which means the portioning and quality have to be "just perfect," or they don't count, Broadfoot said.

"The pizzas must be the proper portion of dough, sauce and cheese, made just the way we would deliver in our stores," said Dana Harville, Domino's Pizza spokeswoman. "And they're being judged right there on the spot."

"(The competitors) take this very, very seriously. It's really like an athletic sport. They have different warm-up rituals ... it goes by very fast," Harville said, so you have to be at the top of your game. "It's a live action show."

Sela's first competition didn't go so well. Her time was longer than the minute it takes to qualify for the finals.

"It was really kind of horrible. But (my coach) made me want to try again," she said.

It's a lot of weight on her shoulders, Broadfoot said, but she handles it well.

"It's a great thing to have her represent the company and Decatur," he said, "and go up against the world ... the Domino's Pizza world. That's pressure itself."

The event champion will receive $5,000 and make the talk show rounds, such as Late Night with David Letterman and Good Morning America, he said.

"It's really a big feat to get into this," Broadfoot said.

Out of 5,143 stores and 170,000 employees, franchisees, team members in the U.S. alone, "(competitors have) really earned their stripes to get to the finals," Harville said.

How does Sela feel about the pressure?

"I don't get nervous. I get ready to go and get motivated (at a competition.) ... It's an adrenaline rush," Sela said. "I couldn't do it without my coach. He pushes me hard to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

"He bounces around, screaming at me, and that motivates me. It gets pretty intense."

But Broadfoot, who knows from experience how the competition heats up, said that though Sela thinks her coach has helped her the most, "it's really not me. It's her. She's come a long way."

So with pizza always on the brain, does Sela eat pizza on her days off?

"I try not to," she said.

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