Students had an opportunity to sample pizza, win prizes and take pizza-making lessons at California Pizza Kitchen in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on Wednesday.
USC Hospitality partnered with CPK to host the first Pizza Toss Event. The event featured trivia, pizza-eating and dough-stretching contests, and allowed students to learn how to make pizza from professional chefs. CPK also offered free samples of their new Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pizza.
“We wanted to give students an opportunity to come have fun, and learn about our new pizza. We want students to be aware of different options on campus for dining,” said Erika Chesley, associate director of special events for USC Hospitality.
Chesley was pleased with the turnout for the event. About 40 students were present throughout the evening.
“We really like to promote our hospitality events to get students excited about restaurants on campus,” said Annie Edwards, a member of the USC Auxiliary Services Street Team.
Members of the men’s basketball team were also in attendance at the Pizza Toss in order to promote the team’s Tip-Off event this Sunday.
“The basketball season starts in two weeks so the Athletic Department wants the student body to get to know the team and for players to have the chance to interact with other students,” said Jessica Onyepunuka, the athletic department’s assistant marketing director.
Darion Clark, a forward on the men’s basketball and a sophomore psychology major, enjoyed the opportunity to attend the event and sample the new Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pizza. Clark came in first place out of 10 participants in the pizza-eating contest.
“My competitive spree came out during the pizza eating contest when my teammates were challenging me,” Clark said. “It was definitely a fun event, I enjoyed myself.”
Will Liu, a sophomore majoring in economics and business administration, said the event made him more aware of the on-campus dining options at the Campus Center, specifically at CPK.
“It was a fun event and I learned about the new options they have at CPK which is great,” he said. “I might come here more often now because of the new pizza.”
Liu was on the winning team for the pizza dough-stretching contest. Winning teams for each of the different contests were awarded Ralph’s and Visa giftcards, as well as Nike Apparel packs.
Jane Zhang, a junior majoring in business administration, was also a member of the winning team for the pizza dough-stretching competition.
“My friends told me about the event so I came with them and it was fun. I tried the new pizza, too. It was really good,” Zhang said.
Initial feedback for the event and the new pizza was overwhelmingly positive, CPK Assistant Manager James Young said.
“I think students seemed really happy about our new menu items,” Young said. “We wanted to show students our new items and also show off that we have hand-tossed pizza because most students don’t realize that.”
USC Hospitality will continue to host events like the Pizza Toss in the future, Chesley said.
“We want students to know more about the options on campus so we definitely plan to have more events in the future with different venues,” she said.
USC Hospitality plans to welcome two new venues in the spring semester, Chesley said. In January The Habit will replace Carl’s Jr. in the Campus Center, and Nekter will replace Shop Cafe in the School of Architecture and Fine Arts.