Pizza Hall of Fame: John Arena

Pizza Hall of Fame: John Arena

John Arena is a third-generation pizza chef with over 48 years of experience. He is the owner and co-founder of Metro Pizza and the newly opened Truly Pizza in Dana Point, CA. He is one of the most well-respected and cherished leaders of the Global Pizza Industry. His knowledge and pizza wisdom are legendary. He always has a kind word, and generous with his time and sharing lessons to the next generation. We asked him what he thinks about our favorite pizza trend: #SauceOnTop!  

“Probably one of the most noteworthy trends influencing the American pizza scene in the last few years has been the increased use of sauce being placed on top of cheese when the pizza is assembled. For some this has been seen as a radical or even sacrilegious movement. But let’s really think about it. A number of regional styles have always used this method including Chicago Deep Dish, Detroit Red Top, New Jersey Tomato Pie, NY Grandma style and the so called “upside down” Sicilian pizza of Brooklyn. In my pizzeria we have 3 different pizza styles that place tomato on top of cheese and I feel there are very valid reasons for doing so. In our restaurants, everything revolves around engaging the five senses in a positive way.

  • Sight- The contrast of bright red tomato set on a base of milky white mozzarella is visually dramatic and eye catching
  • Aroma- The fragrance of a balanced and well-crafted tomato sauce is much more pronounced when the tomato is placed on top. The guests can notice it as soon as the pizza is set on the table.
  • Feel (texture) Americans love crispy pizza. By placing the cheese down first the butterfat in the cheese becomes a barrier protecting the dough from any moisture coming off of your sauce. In addition the sauce protects the cheese from being exposed to excessive heat in the oven. The result is a crispy crust and creamy cheese- the best of both worlds. As an extra bonus you will get a pizza that travels much better when placed in a box.
  • Sound -Because the sauce on top method reduces absorption of moisture into the crumb structure of the dough you will get a satisfying “crunch” sound when cutting or biting into the pizza.
  • Taste- Of course it all comes down to flavor. Most pizzerias purchase cheese, But every high quality pizzeria makes their own tomato sauce. By placing the tomato on top you are putting your key signature ingredient front and center to maximum effect and thereby setting yourself apart from the competition.


How to preserve tomatoes: what you need to know

How to preserve tomatoes: what you need to know

Ever wonder how tomatoes are preserved? Here’s what you need to know about how to preserve tomatoes for ultimate taste and quality. 

Tomatoes are undoubtedly one of the most beloved and versatile ingredients in the culinary world. Their rich flavor and nutrient profile have led to a wide array of tomato-based products, from pasta sauces to ketchup and salsa. However, the challenge lies in preserving their nutritional integrity throughout the manufacturing process. In this article, we’re examining the technology and science behind canning tomato products, and how manufacturers preserve essential nutrients to deliver wholesome products that grace our tables. 

How to preserve tomatoes

The journey from fresh tomatoes to canned tomato products involves several intricate steps. While this process is extensive, it’s important to make sure that each step is done correctly so that the products are safe and well-preserved. 

1. Selection and Harvesting: The process begins with the best-quality tomatoes at the peak of ripeness, which ensures that the tomatoes are brimming with the most nutrients and flavor.

2. Preparation: The tomatoes are sorted, washed, and often blanched to facilitate peeling and enhance the preservation process. Furthermore, the cans are preheated for sterilization, which helps ensure the cleanliness and safety of the containers. 

3. Processing Cans: Manufacturers use heat treatments to eliminate microorganisms and their spores while preserving the nutritional quality of the food. In fact, the heat applied during processing can enhance the bioavailability of certain antioxidants, such as lycopene, which becomes more accessible for absorption when cell walls are broken down during heating.

4. Cooling, Labeling, and Storage: Following processing, the cans are rapidly cooled to room temperature. Once they are cooled, the outer surface of the cans is dried for labeling, and then stored in cool and dry places before being dispatched.

What types of canned tomato products are available?

  • Pasta Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salsa
  • Tomato juice
  • Whole peeled tomatoes
  • Diced and petite diced tomatoes
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste


The science of canning tomato products is a delicate dance between preserving nutrients and ensuring safety and flavor. Manufacturers follow many steps to deliver products that offer both taste and quality. Whether it’s a comforting bowl of pasta, a dollop of ketchup on your fries, or a zesty salsa to accompany your chips, you can trust that these tomato products have been carefully crafted to maintain their nutritional value while delighting your taste buds.

Try out some of our favorite recipes featuring canned tomatoes: 

Get Fired Up For USA Tomato Products

Get Fired Up For USA Tomato Products

I’m here to drop some truth bombs on why spending more money on imported tomatoes from Europe doesn’t make a lick of sense when we’ve got the best damn tomatoes right here in America.

First things first, let’s talk about quality. Now, I’m not saying Europe can’t produce some decent tomatoes, but let’s be real, folks – the heart and soul of tomato growing is right here in the good ol’ US of A. It always has been. Tomatoes are native to the Americas!  Blind taste tests continue to prove that on any given day, a USA canned tomato can and usually does beat out any imports. We totally understand that most people will pick the brand their grandma used, but it’s just foolish to believe blindy that everything imported is somehow superior. Try it for yourself!   

In America, we’re all about that hustle and grind, and guess what? Supporting local farmers is part of that ethos. When you buy American tomatoes, you’re not just getting the best taste; you’re also supporting our own economy, our own farmers, and our own communities. That’s how we build a stronger foundation for our future – by putting our money where it matters most.

Let’s talk about the carbon footprint, too. Shipping tomatoes all the way from Europe? Come on, that’s like paying for a first-class ticket for unnecessary pollution. We’re all about sustainability and reducing our impact on this beautiful planet. So why not cut down on those food miles and get your tomatoes from right here in America? It’s a win-win for your taste buds and the environment.

So, to wrap it all up – we’ve got the best tomatoes, we’re supporting our own economy, we’re reducing our carbon footprint, and we’re saving time. It’s a no-brainer, my friends. Let’s keep it real and make the smart choice – go for those American tomatoes and watch your taste buds, your wallet, and the planet will thank you later. 💪🍅

Alec Wasson – Chief Tomato Evangelist & Director                                            Tomato Products Wellness Council 


How Canned Tomatoes Define Italian Pasta Recipes and Pizza Dishes

How Canned Tomatoes Define Italian Pasta Recipes and Pizza Dishes

Tomatoes are at the heart of Italian cuisine, which is why canned tomatoes can help you enjoy these dishes all year round. Here’s how canned tomatoes define the most classic Italian pasta recipes and other well-loved dishes. 

Italian cuisine is beloved worldwide for its rich flavors, vibrant colors, and hearty ingredients. At the heart of many classic Italian dishes lies the humble tomato, which adds depth, tanginess, and a touch of sweetness. Interestingly though, this is a fairly recent development, as tomatoes are not native to Europe. They only became accepted as a part of their cuisine in the 19th century. Now it is the centerpiece.

While fresh tomatoes are often celebrated, canned tomatoes offer a convenient and versatile alternative that can truly elevate your Italian culinary creations. Ask any Italian grandma, and she’ll confirm you should use canned tomatoes all year long for cooking. Here’s how canned tomatoes can define traditional Italian dishes like pasta and pizza, bringing out their authentic flavors and taking them to new heights.

The Magic of Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes possess a unique quality that makes them a fantastic addition to Italian recipes. The tomatoes used for canning are picked at their peak of ripeness and quickly processed, sealing in their freshness. This allows for a consistent and flavorful product that can be enjoyed year-round, regardless of the season. Plus, canned tomatoes are teeming with health benefits, which make them an ideal choice to have in your pantry!

Italian Pasta Recipes for the Perfect Pasta Sauce

Canned tomatoes serve as the foundation for a variety of pasta sauces, transforming a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece. Whether you’re making a classic marinara, a hearty Bolognese, or a creamy vodka sauce, canned tomatoes provide a rich and robust base. Their concentrated flavor infuses the sauce with a deep tomato essence that pairs perfectly with pasta of any shape or size.

Homemade Pizza Delights

No discussion of Italian cuisine is complete without mentioning pizza. Canned tomatoes can revolutionize your homemade pizza by creating a vibrant and tangy sauce. The concentrated flavors of canned tomatoes, when combined with aromatic herbs and spices, yield a sauce that brings out the best in your pizza toppings. Whether you prefer a classic Margherita or a creative combination of ingredients, canned tomatoes help deliver that authentic pizzeria experience. 

Here are some of our favorite pizza recipes:

Slow-Simmered Soups and Stews

Italian cuisine is renowned for its comforting soups and stews, so what better way to elevate your dish than to use canned tomatoes for added depth and richness? Whether you’re making a hearty minestrone, a rustic Zuppa di Pesce, or a savory tomato-based stew, canned tomatoes provide a robust flavor profile that enhances the overall taste and texture.

Stuffed Delights

From stuffed tomatoes to eggplant Parmesan, canned tomatoes play a vital role in creating deliciously stuffed Italian dishes. The versatility of canned tomatoes allows you to craft a flavorful filling and then bake it to perfection. The tomatoes impart their distinct taste, complementing the stuffing while adding a delightful touch of acidity.


Homemade Bruschetta

While canned tomatoes are often associated with cooked dishes, they can also be used to create fresh and vibrant bruschetta toppings. The combination of diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, herbs, and a splash of olive oil creates a mouthwatering bruschetta that adds a burst of flavor to toasted bread, making it a crowd-pleasing appetizer or snack all year long. Not just during fresh tomato season (late summer). 


Canned tomatoes offer an excellent way to celebrate classic Italian dishes, infusing them with depth, flavor, and convenience. Whether you’re preparing pasta sauces, homemade pizza, slow-simmered soups, or stuffed delights, canned tomatoes provide a reliable and consistent ingredient that delivers authentic Italian taste year-round. Embrace the versatility of canned tomatoes and let them transport you to the sun-kissed lands of Italy, where each bite is a celebration of flavor and tradition.

TPWC Member Highlight: Red Gold Tomatoes

TPWC Member Highlight: Red Gold Tomatoes

Get the scoop on Tomato Wellness member, Red Gold Tomatoes. We are proud to have them on board as part of the tomato community!

When the United States joined World War II, the Reichart family answered the call to action and began producing canned tomato products for the troops. Red Gold Tomatoes is a Midwest company that has been offering quality goods since 1942, and they are currently the largest privately owned tomato processor in the country. They own several brands and product lines, work with family farms across Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, and operate multiple state-of-the-art facilities in Indiana.

Family Owned, Grown, and Made in the USA! For four generations, the Red Gold family has been working with local family farms to grow the highest quality, best-tasting tomatoes in the world. 

Their mission statement is to produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world. There are a total of eight brands that operate under the Red Gold label. They offer a wide variety of tomato-based products including diced and stewed tomatoes, sauces, ketchups, condiments, juices, and mixes. Whatever you need, Red Gold is there to provide high quality ingredients.

Red Gold operates on three pillars of success: superior quality, outstanding service, and operational excellence. Their 1,300 employees strive to uphold these values every day. Beyond their excellent products and service, Red Gold proudly supports hunger and disaster relief organizations and partnered with Folds of Honor to support military families.

Try some of these fabulous Red Gold recipes in your kitchen!

Fideo Soup
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Monte Cristo Salad