ORLANDO – An unusual pie ingredient – rye bread – punctuated this year’s Professional Best of Show pie at the 25th Annual APC National Pie Championships in Orlando.
David Eaheart, from Kansas City, Missouri, took home the top award for professionals for his Iceland’s Café Loki-Inspired Rye Bread Cream Pie. Layered with a cream filling, toasted rye bread, piped meringue and a caramel sauce drizzle, Eaheart’s blue ribbon-winning creation beat out 145 entries for Best of Show in the professional division.
This year, both the amateur and professional Best of Show winners came from the new Best Vacation Pie category, proving that pie still holds that uncanny ability to transport people to a happier time and place. Bakers in the category submitted a one-paragraph description with their entry showcasing how the pie represented their favorite vacation. For Eaheart, it was a walking food tour of Reykjavik, Iceland, that introduced him to Café Loki’s Rye Bread Ice Cream – the inspiration behind his award-winning pie. Eaheart steeped savory rye bread in pastry cream and balanced his pie with sweet caramel drizzles and a silky Swiss meringue rim.
“I think what makes my pie unique is the flavor combination, as well as the mixed texture of creamy and crunchy,” said Eaheart. “The rye bread has a strong savory element, and there are hints of coriander and cinnamon.”
Eaheart is the marketing and communications director for Seaboard Foods, but he earned a culinary degree seven years ago, noting the baking and pastry classes as his favorite from the curriculum. Through his job, he works with Operation BBQ Relief, which sets up pits and serves BBQ in disaster-stricken areas. He will be donating a large part of his $5,000 prize money to the organization. A true foodie, Eaheart has also been a judge at the World Food Championships for the past seven years. As a winner at this year’s National Pie Championships, he will be headed to the World Food Championships again this year – this time as a competitor in the pastry division.
Other notable winners in the professional category are Andy Hilton, from Davenport, Florida, with two first-place and two second-place finishes; Michele Stuart, from Norwalk, Connecticut, with two first-place and three second-place finishes; and Katheryn Hanson, who took home five second-place ribbons.
Savory Pot Pies
An emerging favorite, savory pot pies were added as a category among all three divisions four years ago, much to the delight of heartier pie lovers. This year, first place ribbons were awarded for five savory pot pies. Professional Michele Stuart’s Creamy Traditional Chicken Vegetable was the winner in her respective division.
Best Vacation Pie
This year, both the amateur and professional Best of Show winners happen to come from the new, Best Vacation Pie category, proving that pie still holds that uncanny ability to transport people to a happier time and place. Bakers also submitted a one-paragraph description with their entry showcasing how the pie represented their favorite vacation. Professional David Eaheart’s passport was stamped with top honors for his Iceland’s Café Loki-Inspired Rye Bread Cream Pie.
Comstock/Wilderness Best in Show
In this flavor-packed category, each Comstock/Wilderness entry was required to use a filling consisting of an entire can of Comstock filling, as well as four additional ingredients of the baker’s choice. Flavor categories included apple, cherry, blueberry, peach and strawberry. One top winner in each category was named a Best in Show candidate and the Take Stock in Your Strawberry Pie, by Lisa Sparks, topped the professional division.
Guittard Chocolate Pies
Entrants were required to use only Guittard chocolates, including Guittard Organic 66% Semisweet Chocolate wafers in their recipe. In the professional division, Harlan Bakeries’ Chocolate Maple Sugar Crème won for family pie, Weston Foods’ Guittard Chocolate Cherry Pie won for the premium pie, and Rocky Mountain Pies’ Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Silk won for super gourmet. Michele’s Pies secured an independent win for its Chocolate Walnut creation.
Dobla Summer Orange Creamsicle
A twist on the classic Creamsicle flavor, chefs had to incorporate specific Dobla chocolate decorations in these orange-and-cream inspired pies. Christopher Taylor won the professional division with his Tropical Orange Cream Pie.
“All of these pie enthusiasts represent the best of the best in the pie-making industry,” said Linda Hoskins, Executive Director, American Pie Council. “Over the past 25 years, we’ve grown our pie family of members, while continuously spreading and upholding one of America’s most time-honored traditions through generation after generation – the art of pie making. We’re proud of our 25 years fostering America’s love affair with pie and can’t wait to see what our bakers cook up over the next 25 years!”
The 25th Annual APC National Pie Championships were held April 12-13 at the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld Hotel. Amateur, professional and commercial bakers from throughout the U.S. and Canada entered 728 of their most delicious pies in both sweet and savory flavor categories for bragging rights to be named the nation’s best. More than 200 judges “endured” the hardship of taste-testing the incredible selections each day of the competition. Pies were judged on flavor and creativity, as well as first and overall impression. Volunteers traveling as far as California descended in Orlando all for the love of America’s most beloved and revered traditional confection – the all-American pie.
In addition to the competitions, the 25th Annual National Pie Championships featured seminars from pie industry icons that provided everything from tips and the latest industry research to demonstrations showcasing new baking techniques. Chef Joe DiPaolo of Pinnacle Foods and Meg Harris of Conagra Brands demoed the art and science of pie thickeners while Chef Josh Johnson, from The Guittard Chocolate Company, focused on the flavor impact of layers and textures. Chef Monica Kate of Dobla showed bakers how to create a unique “pie”-dentity using Dobla chocolate confections.
For more information on the American Pie Council, the 25th Annual APC National Pie Championships, and a complete list of winners, visit www.piecouncil.org.