The pie contest returns! Once again, KCRW is partnering with UCLA’s Fowler Museum as PieFest 2023 returns to in-person competition. It takes place at UCLA Royce Quad on Sunday, April 30 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Whether you’re a baker who wants to participate in the competition, a pie aficionado, or someone looking for a family outing, we’ll have a day of tasting, shopping, learning, and chilling for you. Our first was in 2009. Due to the pandemic, this will be our 11th in-person event! It’s a family event. Even small ones will have an opportunity to compete.
This event has a particular origin story. I’ve always loved pie, even as a child, at one point insisting on pie for my birthday instead of cake. This gustatory enjoyment has continued throughout my adult life with occasional forays into making them myself starting when I was 10. But in 2009, I decided to focus on achieving mastery. I was looking ahead to a summer of no travel, wondering what project I could take on to entertain myself. For no particular reason other than personal gluttony and obsession, I decided I would make a pie a day all summer long and blog about it on the (now defunct) Good Food blog. I was warned by my producers that once I started, I had to keep it going, so I did. That summer, I baked in excess of 60 pies, sharing the results with my KCRW colleagues in the basement. That’s how I learned that every pie, no matter how awful I thought it was, had someone who loved it. It has become my motto.
As I baked and ran into problems, we booked pie people for the show who could coach me. We covered so much pie content that eventually everyone everywhere seemed to be talking about pie. That’s when I pitched the idea of a pie contest to Jennifer Ferro, who was the executive producer of Good Food at the time. She's now president of KCRW. At first, it was a hard sell and seemed kind of bizarre, but it turned out that the station was looking for an event to put on at a mall in the valley.
So in November 2009, the first contest unfolded at the Topanga Mall. It was crazy in the best way. We made the place smell like a million grandmothers were baking, and it was the beginning of a community of bakers that exists to this day and keeps growing.
So if you’re intrigued and want a project, why not enter as a baker, pick a pie or two to concentrate on and start practicing. It’s good to have a goal. Registration opens today, March 1, 2023. Simply go to kcrw.com/pie for all the information you need to enter. If you are simply a fan of the delicacy and want to spend a day eating, picnicking and being entertained then come to PieFest 2023! It’s Sunday, April 30 from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Calendar it!