Written By: Anthony Machado Sagastume

Many know Vanessa Smith as a Nimitz High School Assistant Principal. But what may not be as apparent is her culinary craftsmanship, which recently earned her two recognitions at the State Fair of Texas. Mrs. Smith, along with 16 others, participated in a new contest the fair offered to show off their pizza cooking skills. This competition was composed of five different categories, and Mrs. Smith successfully flourished in the combination category and dessert pizza. 

With the support of her family and friends, she developed an appetizing recipe to earn 2nd place for the combination pizza and an honorable mention for the dessert pizza. 

Before becoming an administrator, Mrs. Smith was the culinary arts teacher at Nimitz High School from 2010 to 2014. She helped initiate the culinary arts pathway and build the kitchen section for students at Nimitz HS.

Building up her passion in the kitchen, this opportunity at the State Fair was perfect for an enthusiastic chef. Mrs. Smiths’ family played a huge role in decision making and developing this recipe before-hand. 

“It was fun getting to make the recipe that my family specifically liked,” she says. “With pizza, you can make it just special and unique to your preference. It doesn’t have to be something that everybody likes. It can just be something that you know you like.”

Knowing the correct use of dough and other ingredients such as arugula, prosciutto and goat cheese, her hand-crafted recipe for the first pizza was a delightful taste to the judges. For the dessert pizza, she used Biscoff cookie butter with raspberries and a drizzle of powdered sugar, making it an outstanding sweet dessert-pizza. 

During the live cooking experience, she was accompanied by her niece and nephews, sisters, brothers-in-law and her husband to cheer her on. Making the recipe that her family values as a unique preferred pizza.

“It was special because it was one of my bucket list items – I always wanted to get a ribbon from the State Fair so it’s cool because I got two,” she says. 

Going forward, Mrs. Smith is going back next year with her eyes set on blue ribbons. Thanks to her dedication to the art of pizza-making, she leaves the State Fair with a second place award, an honorable mention award and an everlasting memory of this experience.