Meet the PieFest 2023 judges

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Entrants in Good Food's 2019 Pie Contest. Brian Feinzimer for KCRW Photo by Brian Feinzimer for KCRW

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.

A strawberry pie. Photo by Jodie Morgan/Unsplash

This year, we've divided PieFest entrants into nine categories:

  1. Apple 
  2. Fruit (excluding Apple) 
  3. Cooked Custard 
  4. Savory (No Fish or Seafood Pies) 
  5. Cream/chiffon/mousse 
  6. Nut 
  7. Vegan 
  8. Kids (10 and under) 
  9. 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. 

Chef Nyesha Arrington (left) and artist Stacy Michelson were among the judges for the 2019 Pie Contest. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for KCRW

Without further ado, these are the judges for the 2023 PieFest & Contest:

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!