Pies have been around since the ancient Egyptians and came to the Americas with English settlers. Over the years, pies evolved from primarily meat pies to the sweet custard, cream, and fruit pies we know today.
Since its founding in 1983, the American Pie Council (APC) has been the ONLY organization completely devoted to “the enjoyment, consumption, and the pursuit of pie,” and that enjoyment of pie culminates annually in Orlando, Florida with the National Pie Championships. Since 1995, the National Pie Championships has drawn amateur, professional, and commercial bakers from all over the US and Canada to compete for the “Best” pie in America.
Over the years, the National Pie Championship has moved from Colorado to Florida and evolved from the Great American Pie Festival to the Pie Industry Seminar and Learning Center, where members and the public gather for workshops, demonstrations, break out sessions, and pie sampling. As the love of pie grows, so does the National Pie Championships, and this year promises to be one of the biggest and best yet.
The weekend, April 29-30, kicks off on Friday with commercial and independent bakers competing for bragging rights and seminar/workshops geared for the pie industry. Then, on Saturday, the amateur and professional bakers go head-to-head for Best of Show titles, more workshops, seminars, and a Give Kids The World Pie Party fundraiser.
I owe much of what I do to the American Pie Council and the National Pie Championships. After watching a show on Food Network about the NPC in 2007, I brazenly set out to compete…knowing absolutely NOTHING about pie baking. I entered my first NPC in 2008, and royally SUCKED! I was awful. So, I spent the next year, reading, researching, and studying the pies of past winners. By 2009, I’d figured a few things out, and I won a couple of categories–Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Custard. Then, in 2013, I won the whole thing! My “Sittin on a Sandbar Key Lime Pie” was named the Best of Show/National Champion, and my journey into food competitions and blogging began.
This year’s NPC has already begun for me. My prep work started Sunday with the mother of all shopping trips. My handy Excel spreadsheet of ingredients, organized alphabetically, amounts, and grocery stores, and I spent hours making sure that I had everything I needed. By Monday night, I began grinding cookies for crusts. Tonight, crusts and dough will be made and garnishes prepped. Tomorrow, the marathon begins as soon as I get off work. School ends at 2pm, and my plan is to be baking by 2:30pm. Tomorrow’s pie baking marathon won’t end until the last pie is boxed and ready for delivery on Saturday morning.
As a professional baker, I can enter 13 pies. As a full time teacher, mother of 2, wife, personal chef, chicken wrangler, pre-teen chauffeur, and homework expert, I’m only entering 6 pies. In fact, I’m not sure how anyone could enter all 13 categories and live to tell about it. Can I disclose what I’m baking? Not yet. Next week, when it’s all said & done, I’ll post pics and recipes for all to enjoy!
OH, and if you’re not doing anything Saturday evening, head out to the Caribe Royale resort in Orlando for the Pie Party! Two slices of pie will only cost you $5, and 100% of the money raised will benefit Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee that provides week long vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
See you there!