Pie are Squared Off

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was the site of KCRW’s third annual Good Food Pie Contest last Sunday. In spite of the heat and the crowds, everyone was in good spirits and chatted with their neighbors in the long but quick-moving line to peek at the contenders.

According to KCRW, more 1000 people attended the event, with 131 bakers entering 185 pies in the competition. Bakers were attired in a variety of creative aprons and sometimes themed costumes. The bakers paraded in a conga line through the crowd to show off their outfits. We liked the beehive (honey pie?) but were puzzled by the bagel/donut man.

We were most excited to check out the pies in the “Tim Burton” category in honor of the current LACMA exhibit. Most of the pies were “Nightmare before Christmas” themed, but the darling of the lot was a “James and the Giant Peach” featuring — you guessed it — a giant peach. We were somewhat relieved there were no Sweeny Todd grisly hand pies, but disappointed at the absence of a “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” pie.

Evan Kleiman emceed the event, but as Elina Shatkin reported in Squid Ink, Kleiman left the tasting duties to the 17 judges, including the esteemed Jonathan Gold. Strangely enough, the Squid Ink post inspired a discussion in the comments section as to which food writer should have risked poisoning in lieu of Gold.

The best in show was a Classic Apple Pie. Winner Stephanie Shaiken has a family business, Crust, that specializes in pies and cracker brittle. Stephanie credits pie with saving her life. She started baking apple pies while struggling through law school, and it became her saving grace.

We are somewhat puzzled by the second place nut pie being “unknown”. How can we be sure it really was a nut and not some imposter? We spoke to Emily Baker, creator of the James and the Giant Peach” pie before the competition, and she barely escaped disaster when someone carrying the pie toppled the peach. It took great effort on her part to be escorted into the heavily guarded area to turn her peach upright.

I did sample the Tim Burton peach pie, and it was delicious. I am also excited about trying the recipe for the Chocolate Chess Pie. Besides the peach pie, other noteworthy tastes were a blackberry pie and a lemon pie by Annika Corbin of the soon-to-open I Like Pie Bakeshop, who also created the little pies in jars. Many of the cream pies suffered from heatstroke, and some of the savory pies looked downright unsavory.

Stephanie Shaiken – Classic Apple Pie

1. Stephanie Shaiken – Classic Apple Pie
2. Sam Robinson – Peach Blueberry Crumble
3. Jessica Kubel – Apple Cranberry

1. Stuart Faber – Pecan Pie
2. Kristin Anderson – unknown
3. Claudia Guevara – Pecan Pie

1. Sandra Nuzzolilo – Banana Cream Pie
2. Morgan Simons – Banana Nutella Cream Pie
3. Linnea Weaver – Cream Cheese Pie

1. Terry Sweeney – Persian Tart
2. Jennifer Wang – Tomato Pie
3. Marla Cusack – Zucchini Pecorino Pie

1. Emily Baker – “James and the Giant Peach” Pie
2. Bobbie Chi – Blueberry Pie
3. Gretchen Getz – Chocolate Chess Pie

Recipes will continue to be posted on The Pie-a-Day blog .

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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