We don't take anything about the Good Food PieFest & Contest lightly. That includes the judges. On the big day, they're required to try dozens of pies. This might sound like a dream job. And up to a point, it is. But after a while, judging any sort of food contest becomes an exhausting, stomach-stretching slog. (Source: The author of this story, who has judged contests for chowder, cupcakes, grilled cheese, cocktails, and pie, among other comestibles.)
That's why there may be no more important decision than who we choose as judges for PieFest. It isn't as easy as whipping up a French meringue for a lemon tart. These are difficult choices forged in flour, fat, salt, and water. We need people who have discerning palates, people whose integrity is unimpeachable, and, most critically, people who are in town and can come to UCLA on April 30.
This year, we've divided PieFest entrants into nine categories:
- Fruit (excluding Apple)
- Cooked Custard
- Savory (No Fish or Seafood Pies)
- Kids (10 and under)
- Lineage Pie
While competitors can enter as many categories as they like, judges are assigned to a single category. (Judging more than one category would be like dosing yourself with LSD while you're on an ayahuasca bender.) Your mind would be blown, and not in a cute way.
Without further ado, these are the judges for the 2023 PieFest & Contest:
- Amy Taylor — The Pie Room by Gwen
- Ben Mims — cooking columnist - Los Angeles Times
- Brianna Abrams — Winston Pies
- Christine Moore — Little Flower Candy Co.
- Clemence Gosset — The Gourmandise School
- Danielle Bell — de Porres
- Diep Tran — The Banh Chung Collective
- Genevieve Gergis — Saffy's, Bavel, Bestia
- Gustavo Arellano — Los Angeles Times, KCRW
- Hannah Ziskin — House of Gluten, Quarter Sheets
- Heather Platt — journalist
- Jennifer Yee — Baker's Bench
- Justine Hernandez — Just What I Kneaded
- Karen Tongson — professor - USC
- Kristin Trattner and Monica May — Nickel Diner
- Lien Ta — All Day Baby, Here's Looking At You
- Margarita Manzke — Republique, Manzke, Bicyclette, Sari Sari Store
- Bertha Mason — Baking With Bertha
- Mona Holmes — journalist - Eater L.A.
- Robert Wemischner — Pastry Instructor - LA Trade-Technical College
- Sang Yoon — Father's Office
- Sherry Yard — Bakery by Yard
- Stacy Michelson — artist
- Stephanie Breijo — journalist - Los Angeles Times
- Tejal Rao — critic at large - The New York Times
- Valerie Gordon — Valerie Confections
- Zack Hall — Clark Street Bread
- Zen Ong — Awan
Don't go trying to bribe them. See aforementioned "unimpeachable integrity." Besides, they don't know who made which pie, so it won't sway their decisions. But many of these people have been guests on Good Food and you'll learn a lot from their expertise.
Good luck and happy baking!