Exploring the world of savory pies with Tejal Rao

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Savory pies is one of nine categories in this year's KCRW's Good Food PieFest & Contest. Photo by Brian Feinzimer

Some of the most satisfying pies aren't sweet at all. Tejal Rao, critic at large for The New York Times, will be judging this year's Good Food PieFest & Contest, which returns in-person after a three-year pandemic hiatus. Rao recalls her mother's British-style pies with meat and vegetables as well as a samosa-esque pie involving puff pastry with lambs, peas, and potatoes. 

Some of her favorite savory pies include a Swiss chard slab pie from Kristin Donnelly's "Modern Potluck." Taking up an entire sheet pan and sweating onion and garlic, Rao calls it a "party pie." Yotam Ottenghi uses butternut squash for another tinless large pie, seasoned with cinnamon and maple syrup, and encased in frozen puff pastry. Rao recently dove into Claudia Fleming's latest cookbook, "Delectable" and cooked an escarole pie, which was just as good cold as it was warm.

Rao describes the curry pie she would make if she were to enter the Lineage Pie category in this year's pie contest. It draws inspiration from Kenyan coastal cuisine.