For the first time, the American Pie Council is opening the doors of the APC/Crisco National Pie Championships inviting the general public to get a taste of the championships with its new Pie Learning Center.  The center was created to take advantage of the incredible talent at the championships to inform and inspire the art of pie making. Attendees can attend learning sessions with four of the APC's "upper crust" chefs, attend book signings and visit pie-related exhibitors for free from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, April 26.  The center is on-site at the Caribe Royale Hotel, host hotel for the championships in Caribbean Ballroom IV and V.

Attendees will have their choices of one of four baking demonstrations at 2 p.m. and at 3 p.m. from the talented pastry chefs including:

Chef Joe DiPaolo, Duncan Hines Corporate Chef.  Chef Joe will give you tips entering the National Pie Championships, what the judges are looking for and how to improve your scores.

Chef Kim Montello, CMB, Johnson & Wales University.  Chef Kim will take you on an adventure into the world of pie crust.  Explore different options for different effects.

Chef Dawn Viola, Chef, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.  Chef Dawn will give tips on baking for people with food allergies and special dietary needs. 

Chef Bryan Ehrenholm, Chef, California Raisin Marketing Board.  Chef Bryan will explore the fruits and nuts of the California region with an emphasis on raisins.  Tips on using ingredients in pies to bring flavors to their full potential. 

 In addition, Linda Hoskins, APC Executive Director, will be signing copies of the American Pie Council's new book the "America's Best Pies: Nearly 200 Recipes You'll Love."  The book is a collection of 200 delicious recipes that have won awards over the 18 years of the championship competition.  Bakers who have recipes in the book also will be on-hand for the book signing.

The Pie Learning Center kicks off a weekend celebration of pie. More than 39,000 pie lovers from across the globe are expected to transcend upon Celebration, Fla. on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28 for the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco.

The increasingly popular, free admission festival returns to Celebration with all the activities that have made it a family favorite, including the Comstock Pie Creation Station, the pie tin art activity for art lovers of all ages, and the Demonstration Stage sponsored by Village Inn and Bakers Square Restaurants, featuring entertainment and baking demonstrations with chefs from across the country. Always a crowd favorite, the kids' and adults' pie eating contests return this year, once again sponsored by Private Selection.

The highlight of the festival is the Never Ending Pie Buffet, which last year featured an astounding 90,000 slices of pie as well as ice cream, toppings and beverages from America's best known commercial bakers. The Never Ending Pie Buffet has grown each year, from 83,000 slices in 2010 and 70,000 in 2009.