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Eating Pie at the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest

The Pie

I am full of pie, good pie, from the Good Food Pie Contest sponsored by KCRW.  This year marks the 8th year this deliciously sweet (and savory) event has taken place on a lovely fall weekend in Los Angeles.  In past years it was held on the grounds of LACMA but recently it switched to the gorgeous UCLA campus on the lawn between Royce Hall and Powell Library.  I have always been intrigued by this event and have encouraged a certain pie-baking friend to enter her Chess Pie, but have never actually made the effort to check it out.
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This event invites both professional and home cooks to enter pies in one of eight different categories.  This year Sweet Potato Pie got its own category  I was surprised at the number of savory pies (think Chicken Pot Pie) and Vegan Pies.  I didn’t try anything savory, today I was all about the cream, nut and fruit pies.  I heard there were 300 entries this year, and why not?  The prize offerings ranged from Breville Smart Ovens to Breville Panini Presses.
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Each baker is asked to provide two identical pies, one for judging and one for serving the public.  And therein lies the beauty of this fun foodie event, attendees get to taste the pie!  But let me start from the beginning.  The event is free to the public (campus parking however was $12) and starts at 11am.  There are local vendors selling food-related products from olive oil to ice cream to artisan bread and candles (tomato scent, anyone?).  There was also a hula-hoop area and music provided by KCRW DJ’s.  There were a couple popular food trucks parked close by, Border Grill and Baby’s Badass Burgers, and people picnicking on the lawn.
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Matt and I arrived at 2pm which was frankly perfect timing.  While I perused the pie offerings under two different tents, Matt got our spots in the tasting line, in which the tasting started at 2:30.  We had to sign a waiver saying we understood we were eating homemade pie and absolving KCRW of any wrong-doing (ie food poisoning) and then after about a 45 minute wait, we were given two tiny plates, a fork, napkin and two golden tickets.  Actually the tickets were red.  And then the decision making began.  Between us we really had four tickets, meaning four different kinds of pie to sample.  For the first round we got blueberry, peach, chocolate cream and pecan.  When we noticed the line dying down we went back and got more tickets and the second time tried sweet potato, apple, coconut cream and another blueberry.  Now mind you, these were small slivers of pie.  But still after sharing eight small slivers we were both full of pie.  We walked around the campus a bit before heading home for a nap.  We did not stick around for the 4pm announcement of the pie winners, but instead walked around the UCLA campus for a bit.  We never did spot Evan Kleiman, the Good Food host who was there to preside over the pie festivities, but we did spy LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold walking near the tents during our second round of pie tasting.  He didn’t have pie in his hand but perhaps he too was already full of pie.
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By Trish Procetto