A Paisley-based chef has taken home the top prize at a major pizza cooking competition.

Chefs representing over 50 different countries gathered in Palermo, Sicily to take part in the Expocook 2023 Pizza World Championships.

Gianluca Nettuno, 36, earned the highest score and was crowned World Champion for 2023 at the competition on March 7.

The Gazette:

Competitors were tasked with making five different types of pizzas, from the classical round pizza to calzones.

Gianluca works as a chef at a family-run restaurant restaurant in Canal Street, Renfrew.

He told our sister title The Glasgow Times: "My main thing was that because I was representing Scotland, I wanted to provide Scottish ingredients in the pizzas.

"So one was with the Scottish salmon and one was with lamb. One was with beef (the calzone).

"For the margarita pizza, I used Scottish mozzarella."

Gianluca has worked as a chef in restaurants around the world including Michelin-star chef, Mauro Colagreco.

The Gazette:

He believes in mixing things up when it comes to pizza, favouring new techniques and toppings over tradition.

"When I moved to Scotland I discovered a new country and fell in love."

Gianluca had previously entered the competition as a team with friends, but this year he decided to go solo.

He said: "This year I went to do my own thing for myself so I could express my philosophy of cooking. And, you know, I was lucky to win. I'm very, very happy."

He added: "Sometimes you can be more contemporary.

"Maybe you wouldn't expect beef or lamb or salmon on the pizza you know, but I did so because my background is a Michelin star background.

"So I tried to mix and match new techniques into the more kind of a laid-back pizza world you know."

The Gazette:

Gianluca used a dough style he described as "new contemporary", a "complex" way of making the base that involves fermenting the dough for 24 hours.

He said: "The recipe remains a secret."

Off the back of his award, he hopes to launch a charity initiative to help children learn how to make their own pizzas.

He said: "One thing I want to do with the blessing that I've been given is to do a charity with kids, to try and do an event and help children out with the pizza."