In its 22nd edition, the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships took place April 28 and 29 in Orlando.
798 pies were entered by competitors from as far away as California and New Mexico for the bragging rights as one of the nation's top bakers. For the first time, a winner in each of the two divisions was able to savor victory in a new, non-sweet chicken pot pie flavor category.
2016 A.P.C. National Pie Championships -- Amateur Division Winners
This year among 238 pies entered in the amateur division, Grace Thatcher from Delta, Ohio won $5,000 as the Amateur Best in Show for her "Totally Biscoff Pie." Best in Show is judged from among the first place winners in each of the 14 amateur flavor categories as the nation's best of the best. Thatcher's pie won first place in the open flavor category.
Grace Thatcher has competed at the annual event starting in 1997. She took a few years off and returned and has been competing since 2010. Last year, her "Nuts About Apple Pie" took first place at the A.P.C. National Pie Championships and subsequently won Best in Show at the Ohio State Fair.
"I'm so excited to have won this year," said Thatcher. "It's encouraging and gratifying to be recognized with this award. Also, I've been saying for years that if I ever won, I would donate the $5,000 prize to a mission for children. I'm so happy because now I get to do this!"
First ($200), second ($100) and third ($50) place prizes were awarded in each of the 14 amateur flavor categories: apple, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, citrus, cream, cream cheese, fruit/berry, nut, peanut butter, pumpkin, open, hand-created artisan and "better for you." A special Comstock/Wilderness Best of Show and $200 was awarded to Pat Smith from Deltona, Florida for her Last Minute Cherry pie, judged the best among five runner up Comstock/Wilderness fruit flavor categories who each won $100.
For the first time in 22 years, the A.P.C. opened entries to a new chicken pot pie savory category, which was judged as a stand-alone flavor category and was not eligible for the Amateur Best in Show. Judy Sunvold, Chicago, Illinois won $500 for her "Midwest Meets the South Chicken Pot Pie."
2016 A.P.C. National Pie Championships -- Professional Division Winners
This year's pros know pie with 111 total pies entered among 12 professional flavor categories. For the third year in a row, Evette Rahman and owner of Sugar Honey's bakery in Orlando, Florida won Professional Best in Show, this year for her "Super Crunch Pecan Pie." Competitors were deemed professional if they were a professional chef or baker, food writer, food home economist, student enrolled in a degreed program at a cooking school, or any other person who regularly makes pies, baked goods or creates recipes for pay.
Evette Rahman started competing in 2006 in the amateur division, where she honed her pie making skills and eventually opened her bakery Sister Honey's, 247 E. Michigan Street in Orlando in 2012. Because she now owned a bakery, she was required to move to the professional division in 2013. After competing just one year in the professional division in 2013, Rahman went on to win that division's Best in Show in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
"I appreciate the A.P.C., it's sacred to me," said Rahman. "Competing is like being on American Idol. You realize when you compete among so many other talented bakers, wow, I can do this!"
Rahman was also named the professional winner of the new savory chicken pot pie flavor category for her "Savory Herb Chicken Pot Pie."
First place ($200) and honorable mentions were awarded for each of the 12 flavor categories including apple, blueberry, chocolate, nut, fruit/berry, cherry, hand-crafted artisan, citrus, cream, peanut butter, pumpkin and open.
2016 A.P.C. National Pie Championships -- Commercial Division Winners
A third commercial pie division was judged on Friday, April 29. Among the 449 pies entered from 22pie manufacturers, Bakers Square took top honors with 37 pies, followed by Legendary Baking winning 31 first place awards. Bonert's Pies and Cyrus O'Leary's Pie, both won 16 first place awards first place awards.
For a complete list of amateur, professional, and commercial winners, visit piecouncil.org.
In describing the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships, its executive director Linda Hoskins said, "Pie is the cornerstone of American kitchens, bringing family, friends and loved ones together year after year over a simple, delicious piece of our nation's heritage.”