While the city's glitterati were putting the final touches on their red carpet looks, LA's food cognoscenti were already deep in the throes of another nail-biting contest. Over 200 bakers had gathered at LACMA to enter their homemade pies in KCRW's third annual Good Food Pie Contest -- and hundreds more were lining up for little slices of flaky heaven.
Evan Kleiman, host of 'Good Food' and the grand dame of the festivities, was there to corral 17 judges who had been tasked with choosing first, second, and third place winners in five categories: fruit, nut, cream, savory, and Tim Burton-inspired, as well as an overall "Best In Show." The judges included Russ Parsons, food editor at the Los Angeles Times, Carrie Cusack of Simplethings sandwich and pie shop, Aida Mollenkamp of the Cooking Channel show 'Ask Aida,' and Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly.
Scroll down for photos of the event.
While all the pies (with a single slice cut out of them) were on display in the LACMA courtyard for gluttonous spectators to gawk at, the missing slices were assembled by category on tables in the LACMA loading dock. Judges flitted from table to table arguing the finer points of pie-making, often shouting each other down in friendly disagreement ("isn't this cheese pie just a cheese cake?"), or asking for the expertise of the assembled pastry chefs ("is shepherd's pie supposed to be this sweet?"). There were the squeals of delight (and moans of pleasure) when stumbling across a perfect crust -- as well as some rare notes of disapproval ("what the hell is this?").
Chef Jet Tila, one of the judges, told The Huffington Post he was surprised and relieved that he "only had to taste 40 of out of over 200 pies" in order to render a verdict. And while he doesn't bake pies for work, he did share this baking tidbit with us: his secret to a flaky, buttery crust is to use 50% butter and 50% shortening.
Writing about the contest the next morning, Russ Parsons said the sheer quantity of entrants "made for some fairly exhausting tasting by the dozen-odd judges (including myself)."
And according to LA Weekly, Kleiman herself had already eaten her fill of pie before the contest -- which meant that she didn't taste a single contest entry that day. Having just perfected what she believes is her best apple pie earlier that week, Kleiman shared this advice to homebakers with The Huffington Post: "Keep baking. If you didn't win, it's OK. It's only through the doing and the doing, over and over, that we achieve mastery."
UPDATE: LAist editor Lindsay William-Ross writes about the agony and ecstasy of being a pie judge.
All photos by The Huffington Post. Story continues below.
Congratulations to all the winners:
BEST IN SHOW
Stephanie Shaiken - Classic Apple Pie
1. Stephanie Shaiken - Classic Apple Pie
2. Sam Robinson - Blueberry Peach Crumble
3. Jessica Kubel - Apple Cranberry Pie with a Vodka Crust
1. Stuart Faber - Toffee Pecan Chocolate Pie
2. Kristin Anderson - Marcona Almond Pie
3. Claudia Guevara - Pecan Pie
1. Sandra Nuzzolilo - Banana Cream Pie
2. Morgan Simons - Banana Nutella Cream Pie
3. Linnea Weaver - Max's Super 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" Pie
2. Bobbie Chi - Blueberry Pie For Tim Burton
3. Gretchen Getz - Chocolate Chess Pie
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