A new culinary era was recently ushered in as the American Pie Council (APC) announced its 2017 top pie makers with landmark excitement.
For the first time ever in the APC National Pie Championship’s 23-year history, both the Amateur and Professional Divisions’ Best in Show winners were men. Christopher Taylor, from Atlanta, took home the blue ribbon in the Amateur Division for his Checkerboard Peanut Butter Pie and Andy Hilton, from Davenport, topped the Professional Division with his Dreamy Lemon Pie. Although the dual male-marked wins are a first for the annual baking championship, the men are no strangers to competition.
Amateur Division winner, Christopher Taylor, and his partner, Paul, who are both medical doctors in Atlanta, have been competing in baking competitions for the past five years; and when it comes to pies, they mean business. Not wanting to compete against each other, Paul competes in the fruits and berries categories and Christopher creates for the chocolate and cream categories.
“We actually have a spreadsheet in the kitchen to schedule our baking times!” said Taylor.
Taylor’s first taste of victory was six years ago in a local pie contest. He and Paul learned about the National Pie Championships through another contestant’s social media post and decided to enter themselves.
Professional baker Andy Hilton has competed in the APC National Pie Championships for 12 years. He’s racked up approximately 20 APC ribbons, including five second-place finishes in one year. He’s competed in the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” won two major baking competitions and several Best in Show awards from Florida State Fair competitions, yet the APC National Pie Championships honor had still eluded him – until
“I hadn’t gotten the brass ring yet, but now I have it. It’s not a bragging thing, it was a personal quest. I am, for this moment, an expert in pie,” said Hilton, who fondly referred to his win as his “Academy Award”.
Hilton entered six different pies this year. The Best in Show pie, Dreamy Lemon Pie, entered in the Comstock category, was particularly special to him because the simple recipe is one that others could quickly and easily make with the readily-available canned filling, giving them more time to enjoy time with their families.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Hilton. “Pie is like family. It has an appeal like no other pastry. Picnics – pie. Thanksgiving – pie. America is baseball and apple pie. People will look over the other pastries and seek out something very friendly to them – and that’s pie.”
Hilton, now a baker at Publix, got into the industry after leaving his family’s cloth diaper business about 11 years ago. The move to Florida made him miss his mother’s pies and he began baking as a hobby before realizing he wanted to do it for a living. He applies his engineering-focused views from his previous career to this one.
“There’s a science to it. There has to be the right filling-to-crust ratio so there’s not an imbalance,” said Hilton. “For instance, in key lime pie, you’ve got a creamy filling, but too much crust can throw the entire taste out of whack.”
With his $5,000 prize money, he plans to take his wife on a big trip next year to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Most importantly, though, he said he wants to continue to spread his love of pies.
“You give away a little bit of yourself in every pie you make.”
The 23rd APC National Pie Championships were held at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.
To bring Christopher Taylor’s Best in Show-winning Checkerboard Peanut Butter Pie to your own “Pie Tuesday” or to recreate Andy Hilton’s Best in Show-winning Dreamy
Lemon Pie for your own
family celebration, or any of
the other award-winning
entries, check out the recipes at http://www.piecouncil.
For the 23rd year, the American Pie Council — the leading authority on the nation’s most popular All-American treat — announces the country’s top commercial pies at the 2017 APC National Pie Championships May 5 and 6 at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.
This year 22 bakeries entered 470 pies in the Commercial Division of the 2017 APC National Pie Championships. Bakers Square earned top accolades with an impressive 36 award-winning pies. Some of the bakery’s blue-winning entries included Fruitabulous Blueberry Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie, Salty Hog Chocolate Pie, Creamy Orange Float Pie and Chicken Pot Pie, to name a few.
Bakers Square was followed by Legendary Baking with 26 winning pies and Harlan Bakeries and Shari’s Café and Pies, each with 12. The complete list of winners includes:
Bakers Square – 36
Legendary Baking – 26
Harlan Bakeries – 12
Shari’s Café and Pies – 12
Cyrus O’Leary’s – 11
Rocky Mountain Pies – 9
Jessie Lord Bakery – 5
Southeastern Grocers – Winn Dixie – 5
Lisa’s Pie Shop – 4
Sunset Grill – 4
White Post Farms — 3
Table Talk Pies – 2
Kroger-Layton Bakery – 1
Pie Lab Bakery – 1
Publix Super Markets, Inc. – 1
Simply Southern Pies – 1
Three Brothers Bakery – 1
Wayne’s Family Restaurant – 1
Commercial entrants competed in 26 flavor categories — including apple, chocolate cream, citrus, peanut butter, berry, and best new product — as well as chicken pot pie, the only savory flavor category in the competition.
Bringing competitors and cooking co-conspirators together since 1995, the annual pie competition celebrates our nation’s most beloved treat — the All-American pie — and honors those that dedicate their baking skills to creating award-winning pastry treasures.
“Pie is a simple, delicious piece of our nation’s heritage,” said Linda Hoskins, Executive Director, American Pie Council. “Whether for holidays or just for fun, sharing a slice of pie is a long-honored tradition. The American Pie Council is committed to preserving America’s love affair with pie through our annual championships and our dedicated members.”
Open to amateur pie makers, professional bakers and commercial pie manufacturers from throughout the country and Canada, judges grant awards based on appearance, taste, consistency, crust, and the overall product, offering opportunities for companies to get their pie in the limelight – and substantially increase their sales and market share in that category.
The commercial , professional and amatuer division championships were held in May in Orlando.
This year, a total of 789 pies were entered across the three divisions: 22 commercial bakeries entered 470 pies; 16 professional bakers entered 113 pies and 35 amateur contestants entered 206 pies.
All divisions are open to APC members and non-members. By entering, participants not only had the opportunity to sweeten their commercial sales by winning awards, but can attend an array of pie-related workshops, seminars and live demos at the Pie Learning Center. Two days of pie industry events ranged from seminars on pie trends presented by Katherine Allmandinger, Nielsen Perishables Group to holiday tips and tricks presented by Micki Short, Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies. A luncheon sponsored by the Holton Food Products featured Mike Goscinski, American Bakers Association, presenting a Washington update. An awards cocktail reception was sponsored by Colborne Foodbotics and D&W Fine Foods. Many local pastry chefs, as well as other pie-related businesses presented. Other sponsors included Stratas Foods, Richmond Baking and BEMA.
The only organization committed to maintaining America’s pie heritage, the American Pie Council continues to celebrate America’s love affair with the pie, passing on the tradition of pie making from generation to generation. The APC offers personal, professional and commercial memberships. For more information, please visit piecouncil.org.