Here are the winners of KCRW Good Food’s Pie Pageant 2020

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Christina Wong’s Seville Orange Marmalade Pie won the Prettiest Pie category this year. Photo credit: Christina Wong.

When KCRW understood that it would be impossible to conduct  our annual Good Food Pie Contest in person, we had to think of an alternative. We still wanted bakers to use the competition to gather with friends, collaborate and/or challenge themselves to do something new.  

The idea of a Pie Pageant — based on looks alone — was floated and we immediately pounced. 

Then I thought about what we can do via social media that we don’t do for the yearly contest. And it came to me: We should allow bakers to tell their stories. If we can’t taste the pies, at least we can learn more about the maker and that age old question of “why pie?” 

We are thrilled that more than 100 people participated. And boy, was it hard to choose the winners. I had help from Clemence Gossett of Gourmandise School and Valerie Gordon of Valerie’s Confections and the Good Food team.

Best Story winner:
Evin Spain


Evin Spain's story about his great grandmother Ruth’s Chocolate Meringue Pie has it all. He weaves a tale of family history, tradition and social history with a serving of food criticism.

Prettiest Pie winner:

Christina Wong

@BakingWithChickens Seville Orange Marmalade Pie

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Update: "Prettiest Pie" Winner!My official entry to the @KCRWGoodFood #KCRWPie Pageant! 🥧 Meet my SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE PIE with toasted French meringue and salty cardamom crust. This pie is a twist on a classic Lemon Meringue. The sour orange curd tastes just like an orange creamsicle and it’s topped with a homemade marmalade layer. Seville oranges make the most heavenly marmalade with a slightly bittersweet flavor. The inspiration for this pie is from finding more creative ways to use sour oranges from my tree — Part 2 of The Great Sour Orange Debacle. MY PIE STORY: When I was 12-years-old, my first boyfriend brought a Marie Callender’s Lemon Meringue Pie over to my house when meeting my parents for the first time. He wasn’t a great boyfriend and we broke up a couple months later, but it was love at first bite between me and that pie. Thus began a lifelong love affair. 🤤 I’ve made many attempts to recreate that Lemon Meringue, with many failures and many successes. Over the years, I always told myself (like many people do) that I’m not a good baker. I’m a better cook than a baker because I’m not precise enough, I don’t like to measure, and that I’m not patient enough to make beautiful pastries. What I love about pie is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Pie can be rustic, there’s room for improvisation, and mistakes are rendered invisible with a big scoop of ice cream. I love baking because every time a baking project goes wonderfully right or horribly wrong, I learn from my mistakes along the way. Baking reminds me to push past the fear of failure and just do. It’s okay to make mistakes because learning is infinitely more valuable. This life lesson from baking saved me from a sea of self-doubt in my professional career, and gave me the confidence I needed to march to my own weirdly wonderful beat and create Baking With Chickens. Bok-bok-BAKE! 🏻‍ Blog post on how to make this pie-beast now on I list the mistakes I made along the way and what I learned from them! There were many.

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If you’d like to make this pie at home, check out Wong’s instructions here.

Prettiest Pie honorable mentions:

With so many fantastic looking pies coming into our feed, it became more and more difficult to choose a winner. So we decided to have an expansive list of honorable mentions. 

Both Jill Fleischman (@suburban_pie) and Megan Paonessa (@megpiencake) used their dough to embellish the top crust of their pies to great effect. 

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So happy that Kcrw decided to go forward with this year’s contest on Instagram. Few years ago , I entered the KCRW pie contest. Although I did not win, I became obsessed with making pies. Later that year, I saw a show on PBS about pie makers all over the county selling pies , some from home... and I decided I could also sell pies! I opened Suburban Pie, I got a cottage permit from the county and started selling mostly in my neighborhood. I then joined Instagram and a whole other world opened up for me! I became part of a really terrific group of pie artists. I was so inspired by some of their work that before I knew it , decorated pies were my THING ! It’s really the best feeling making a pie, having others enjoy them is just a bonus ! My entry this year is a Strawberry #pie #suburbanpie #losangeles #woodlandhills #malibu #homebaked #freshfruit #piecompany #eatmorepie #pieart #piecrust #f52pie #piesofinstagram #pielove #custompie #kcrwpie

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So this is where I admit, I used to hate making pies. I've always loved eating them, especially my grandmother's banana cream. She's the one that taught me how to make pie dough (don't overwork the fat. Keep everything cold). It helps that she was a baker for LAUSD for decades, and yes, I have the coffee cake recipe (among others). I just could never get my pies to be as good as hers. Shrinking crusts, soupy fillings, I gave up for a while. It was when an old coworker gave me the nickname "megpie" that I knew if I was going to live up to the name, I would need to get better. I worked at it for a time, but it was learning about the pie contest that lit a fire under me. 5 contests, and 20 pies later, I'm still at it. The contest has actually become a special event for my friends and family, and we were all looking forward to it this year, especially with my new daughter. Since we're all social distancing, my mom's days have been a bit lonely, so I wanted to do something to brighten it a bit. I made her one mini pie to bake at home, so we could enjoy the pie together (while my daughter ate the plate), safely in our homes, over zoom. (The flavor is apple with pecan frangipane) @kcrw @kcrwgoodfood #food #dessert #pastry #pie #fruitpie #applepie #piecrust #piecrustdesigns #flowers #fruit #lattice #latticecrust #kcrw #kcrwgoodfood #apple #wednesday #instapies #kcrwpie #quarantinebaking #quarantine #marthabakes #kingarthurflour #imsomartha #bakersofinstagram #baking #baker #decoration #thebakefeed

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Mimi Newman’s (@miminew) striking matcha pie was an example of a different kind of beauty, both minimalist and yet luxurious. And boy, did she bake a perfect blind baked crust. 

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This matcha pie is a custard pie upgraded with bright, grassy matcha blended in. Green tea lovers will love this matcha pie! if you're a matcha fiend like I am, the addition of bright, grassy matcha makes this custard pie less cloyingly sweet and more sophisticated. (and is also my entry into the #kcrwpie contest - swipe for proof of my pie crust baked to golden brown deliciousness, and me being awkward with my pie) If you've had those little mochi ice cream balls that are served for dessert at casual sushi restaurants, this pie tastes like that. It's creamy, cold from being set in the fridge, and not too sweet, with a bit of herbiness from the matcha. Matcha literally means “powdered tea.” When you drink regular green tea, components from the leaves get infused into hot water, then the tea bag is discarded. With matcha, you’re drinking the actual leaves, which have transformed into a powder that’s then traditionally mixed with boiling water. Here, matcha powder is mixed with an (eggless) vanilla custard and blended to a green and grassy concoction, then baked quickly and set in the fridge. As I was thinking about what to make for KCRW's pie contest -- an LA tradition that is now online bc of covid-19 -- I thought about very "LA" flavors. I'm an LA native; I grew up right next to Koreatown. Matcha is a Japanese ingredient that is super hip right now, showing up everywhere from iced CBD matcha lattes at millennial-pink cafes to swirly soft serve ice cream cones from Instagram-able ice cream parlors. While I am not Japanese, the beauty of growing up in LA is the exposure to ideas, flavors, and cuisines vastly different from your own heritage within a short drive. I'm super sensitive to colonizing ingredients for my own benefit, but my hope is that I can promote flavors & ingredients, create interest in trying new things, and direct folks to give money to producers and restaurants doing the real work. Anywho, this one goes out to all my matcha lovers out there!

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And we had to include our youngest baker, 8-year-old @imogenthebaker, whose craft and sense of beauty at such a young age is to be commended.

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Springberry pie by Imogen Freiwald Last year I entered the KCRW pie contest with my Cookies and Cream pie. It was the first year I had learned to make pie, and the first year I had entered the competition. It was so much fun to make! My friend is a baker and asked me earlier that year if I would like to learn to make pie, of course I said YES!! I was very excited to win third place in the under 10’s competition, because I worked hard practicing my recipe. The boy who won 1st place had made a mango pie, and the girl who won 2nd place had made a strawberry pie. I said that day that I wanted to make a berry pie next year and challenge myself to make a real pie crust. So I began to learn. Strawberry pie is now my favorite pie to make because it’s so yummy. I was thinking of making it for the contest this year, but when it was announced this was a beauty pagent I decided to switch it up, use the same recipe but use raspberries and blueberries for more color. I also used fresh cut edible flowers from my friend’s garden to decorate! Here is my Springberry pie. I’m happy it came out as beautiful and yummy as I imagined. Happy springtime to everyone! #kcrwpie

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