112-cheese pizza: not just a pie-in-the-sky ambition

Crown Pizza owner Taso Vitsas, center, looks at Connecticut Sun player Alyssa Thomas as she helps put cheese on a pizza during an attempt to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at the restaurant in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Vitsas used 112.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Crown Pizza owner Taso Vitsas, center, looks at Connecticut Sun player Alyssa Thomas as she helps put cheese on a pizza during an attempt to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at the restaurant in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Vitsas used 112. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

Waterford — As parents, child care workers and teachers can attest, sometimes kids have difficulty playing nicely together. The same can be said of 112 types of cheese when sprinkled and plopped atop the same 24-inch sheet of pizza.

What if Drunk Monk gets into a brawl over flavor domination with a drunken goat? What if Midnight Moon, Purple Haze and Humboldt Fog lump together, making your palette unable to find the Marco Polo? What if the pungent smell of Bayley Hazen Blue overpowers the classic aroma of pizza, a comfort that unites people from the United States to Italy to China?

These are among the 105 cheeses that Christine Chesanek, who is celebrating 25 years with Fromage Fine Foods in Old Saybrook, gave to Crown Pizza owner Taso Vitsas in 1- and 2-ounce cups.

Vitsas said he got roughly $1,500 worth of cheese, but some of it was donated.

Adding seven cheeses of his own, he set out to break the Guinness World Record for most types of cheese on a pizza.

"I think it's a really creative endeavor," Chesanek told The Day via phone beforehand. "I think it's really exciting, and I hope it's all going to taste really, really good."

But Vitsas did not have the same hopes for this extravagant homage to fromage, saying, "I can't guarantee it's going to taste good, but it's going to be fun."

He also noted that along with the single 112-cheese sheet pizza, "We're going to have plenty of our delicious pizza, though, available" — implying that the new creation would not necessarily be delicious.

Spoiler alert: He was right. While Chesanek gets rave reviews for her shop, one cannot simply haphazardly throw 112 cheeses on a pizza and expect a positive outcome.

But it wasn't about taste, Vitsas said: It was about supporting the community and supporting the Connecticut Sun basketball team, which had half of its players partaking in the feat.

In attendance were Courtney Williams, Shekinna Stricklen, Danielle Adams, Rachel Banham, Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas. Arriving at Crown Pizza shortly after 5 p.m., they took selfies with fans, signed basketballs and T-shirts, and danced to tunes that Jammin 107.7 played.

They then went inside the Connecticut eatery to place the cheeses on the pizza. It came out of the oven within 15 minutes, green-tinted from the melting of blue cheeses with varieties in shades of ivory, cream and off-white.

On a bet from her teammates, Williams cut out the portion that looked the least appetizing. After grimacing and hemming and hawing, she took a bite but proceeded to spit it out, reach for a bottle water, and say, "So bad. So bad."

Ledyard resident Bill Potuchek, who has been a Connecticut Sun season ticketholder for 12 years, joked to another player, "If you try that, your foot's going to get better faster."

The pizza was whisked away — uneaten — shortly thereafter and the women proceeded to eat chicken wings and onion rings while waiting for a good old-fashioned regular pizza to come out.

"This is probably the first pizza that's never been eaten here," Vitsas said of the cheesy creation. Despite the taste, the turnout and enthusiasm led him to say the event went "a million times better than I thought it was" going to go.

Vitsas said he couldn't get someone from Guinness World Records to Crown Pizza because it's expensive and requires a lot of notice. But he will be sending in the video and hoping for the best.

The previous record — 109 cheeses — came from Letizia's Pizza in Norwalk, Conn. Owners Danny Segers, Dennis Letizia and Dave Cook teamed up with radio host Ken Tuccio and 109 Cheese and Wine in Ridgefield in May, about a week after Scottie's Pizza Parlor in Portland, Ore. put 101 cheeses on a pizza.

Vitsas came up with the idea to go for the record in part to keep up momentum from when a Crown Pizza hat ended up in the dugout at the World Series last year. That stemmed from Vitsas' friendship with Cleveland Indians outfielder Rajai Davis, a New London native.

"I just loved what it did for the community," Vitsas said. "A lot of people said, 'You guys put Waterford on the map.'"

The world record attempt has been in the works for about three months. Vitsas commended Chesanek, owner of Fromage Fine Foods, saying, "She made this process really, really easy, with labeling and picking the kinds of cheese."

e.moser@theday.com

Editor's Note: This article corrects the previous record holder for the most cheeses on a single sheet of pizza and includes the names of all three owners.

Just a few of the 112 types of cheese that Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza in Waterford, put on a pizza with help from Connecticut Sun players on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in an attempt to break the world record for types of cheese on a pizza. The previous record was 109. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Just a few of the 112 types of cheese that Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza in Waterford, put on a pizza with help from Connecticut Sun players on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in an attempt to break the world record for types of cheese on a pizza. The previous record was 109. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Cat Lewis of Waterford talks with members of the Connecticut Sun, including Danielle Adams, center, before the players help try to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Crown Pizza in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza, used 112. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Cat Lewis of Waterford talks with members of the Connecticut Sun, including Danielle Adams, center, before the players help try to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Crown Pizza in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza, used 112. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Members of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, from left, Rachel Banham, Shekinna Stricklen and Danielle Adams, laugh as they take a selfie before helping to try to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Crown Pizza in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza, used 112.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Members of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, from left, Rachel Banham, Shekinna Stricklen and Danielle Adams, laugh as they take a selfie before helping to try to break the world record for most types of cheese on a pizza on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Crown Pizza in Waterford. The previous record was 109; Taso Vitsas, owner of Crown Pizza, used 112. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

Say cheese!

Bella Bantam; Cry Baby; Europa; Prastost; Swedish farmers cheese; Piave Vecchio; Canestrato; Havarti; Kasseri; Raclette; Chapel Hill; Chimay; sage Derby; Bica; senior; Cahills porter ale; il Truffelino; Cravanzina; Leerdamer; Appenzeller; Ubriaco al Prosecco; Pratomagno; Cacio di Roma; Bayley Hazen Blue; pepato; Ubriaco di Raboso; vacherousse; Gouda aged for two years; Sotto Fieno; Ameribella; Flagship Reserve; Pecorino fresco; Wensleydale sweet onions; Moser Screamer of Switzerland; Humboldt Fog; Cremont; Haloumi; Gruyere; Pico Melero; Quebec cheddar aged seven years; Mimolette; Le Chevrot; Delice d’Argental; Saint Angel; P'tit Basque; St. Albans; Muenster; Snow Camp; Cambozola black; Kunik; Fleur Verte; vacche rosse (red cow) parmesan; Crucolo; drunken goat; Bucheron; Rachel; Prefere de nos Montagnes; Cashel Blue; Morbier; Dorset; Red Witch; Urgelia; Chaource; Epoisses; Mahon; Etorki; Marco Polo; Pico chevre; Jacquin chevre; Cantal; honey fresh chevre log; Bethmale; Prince de Claverolle; Fromager d’Affinois; Livarot; Pont l’Eveque; Bellwether basket cheese of California; Grayson; Campo de Montalban; goat Gouda; Oma; Purple Haze; Abbaye de Belloc; Moody Blue; Saint Agur; Prufrock of Martha's Vineyard; Brigid’s Abbey; Lamb Chopper; Emmental; Fontina Val d’Aosta; Midnight Moon; Fourmage; Manchego; Hooligan; Drunk Monk; Gubbeen; Challerhocker; Pleasant Ridge Reserve; L'Explorateur; Ossau-Iraty; Dirt Lover; Beltane Farms fresh chevre; Asiago; Comte; Tomme de Savoie; Parmesan; feta; American; mozzarella; provolone, cheddar and ricotta.

The first 105 were from Fromage Fine Foods in Old Saybrook, while Crown Pizza provided the last seven varieties.

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