Food Network Star Ted Allen, NFL Network Host Rich Eisen Named Judges in Papa John’s Specialty Pizza Challenge

Judges to Choose Finalists from More Than 12,000 Entries; Highest Seller Will Win Slice of the Sales, Free Pizza for Life

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--()--Food Network star chef Ted Allen and NFL Network studio host Rich Eisen will put their taste buds to the test as judges of the Papa John’s Specialty Pizza Challenge contest. The winner will land a slice of the sales from the winning pizza along with the chance to be in an upcoming “Papa’s in the House” television commercial.

As part of Papa John’s Specialty Pizza Challenge, fans were asked to create a pizza from the list of Papa John’s ingredients, name it and describe in 250 words or less why their pizza should be the next one sitting atop the Papa John’s menu. Allen, Eisen and a short list of judges will choose three finalists from the 12,000 entries submitted, and present them to Papa John’s Founder, John Schnatter, then for voting by consumers.

“We’ve received so many quality recipes that it’s only fair I enlist some help to choose the top three,” said Papa John’s Founder, Chairman and co-CEO John Schnatter. “Ted and Rich will provide excellent insight into which pizzas add the most flavor to Papa John’s menu, while also engaging fellow customers with the stories of what inspired each recipe.”

Papa John’s chefs and executives are currently sifting through the thousands of entries to identify the top ten semi-finalists, whose pizzas will be made at Papa John’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky. and served up to Allen, Eisen, and the other judges for taste-testing on Tuesday, June 29.

Allen is host of two Food Network prime-time shows, Chopped and Food Detectives. He will provide expert insight on contestants’ combination of Papa John’s “Better Ingredients” and each pizza’s appeal to a consumer’s palette. Meanwhile, Eisen, host of NFL Network’s Total Access, will represent pizza fans across the nation who anticipate great games and great pizza while tuned into football.

“Papa John’s makes pizza like it’s still a one-man shop, choosing the freshest ingredients and taking pride in every pizza that comes out of the oven,” said Allen. “The top recipes should adhere to that code and be something that people savor and are proud to put on their table.”

Also serving on the panel will be pizza blogger Adam Kuban, founder of the Serious Eats blog at The company’s Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Varga, Papa John’s Executive Chef Doug Bond, and Louisville-based Papa John’s Manager Tivia Effinger will also help choose the top three. Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter, who personally developed many of the specialty pizza combinations currently offered by Papa John’s, will oversee the making of the pizzas as part of the judging event.

The three winning recipes will be showcased on Papa John’s menu from August 2 – August 29, with the ultimate winner being the highest-selling pizza.

And because the stakes – a portion of sales dollars from the winner’s recipe – are so high Papa John’s is offering the top three finalists a marketing budget of $1,000 to help drive sales of their respective pizzas.

Contestants were asked to create and name their very own specialty pie on Papa John’s fresh, never frozen original dough or thin crust with sauce, cheese and a combination of up to seven Papa John’s better ingredients, including:

  • Fresh-Packed Tomato Sauce -- made from vine-ripened tomatoes, which go from the vine to the can in an average of six hours
  • Cheese made from 100 percent mozzarella
  • 100 percent Real Meats: Bacon, Beef, Ham, Grilled Chicken, Pepperoni, Sausage, Spicy Italian Sausage
  • Fresh-Cut Vegetables: Onions, Green Peppers and Roma Tomatoes
  • Other high-quality ingredients including baby portabella mushrooms and black olives grown in the rich soils of southern Spain.

The grand prize winner will also receive free Papa John’s pizza for life as well as a chance to appear in a “Papa’s in the House” TV commercial.

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) is the world's third largest pizza company. For 10 of the past 11 years, consumers have rated Papa John's No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Papa John's also was honored by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine (R&I) with the 2009 Gold Award for Consumers’ Choice in Chains in the pizza segment. Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA), is the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL and Super Bowl XLV, XLVI and XLVII. For more information about the company or to order pizza online, visit Papa John's at


Papa John's International, Inc.
Tish Muldoon, 502-261-4987
Senior Director, Public Relations


Papa John's International, Inc.
Tish Muldoon, 502-261-4987
Senior Director, Public Relations