Simple is best when it comes to Good Food's pie contest
There were berry pies, cream pies, nut pies and raw vegan pies. There were apple-cranberry pies, apple-cream pies ... well, you get the picture. But the winner of the third-annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest Sunday at the Los Angeles County Art Museum was the simplest pie of all -- Stephanie Shaiken's classic apple. The fruit was perfectly cooked, not too sweet and with just the right touch of spice. But what really knocked out the judges, who included ace pastry chefs Karen Hatfield, Roxanna Jullapat and Zoe Nathan, was the perfect flaky crust.
That's appropriate, since Shaiken runs a custom pie business called Crust. "I wanted to do an apple pie because I think that's the test of a true pie maker," said the 25-year-old baker.
Shaiken's apple, which was also voted the best fruit pie, was one of more than 240 pies entered in the contest, which made for some fairly exhausting tasting by the dozen-odd judges (including myself). Stuart Faber's pecan pie won in the nut pie division; Sandra Nuzzolilo's banana cream was the best cream pie and Terry Sweeney's Persian tart won the savory category.
Runners-up included Sam Robinson and Jessica Kubel in fruit, Kristin Anderson and Claudia Guevara in nut, Morgan Simons and Linnea Weaver in cream and Jennifer Wang and Marla Cusack in savory.
There was also a special category for pies inspired by filmmaker Tim Burton. The winner was the appropriately named Emily Baker for her "James and the Giant Peach" pie. Bobbie Chi and Gretchen Getz were runners-up.
Keep an eye on the KCRW Good Food website through the week for more details and recipes for some of the winning pies.
-- Russ Parsons
Photos by Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times