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Slice of Small Town America: KCRW Pie Contest a Treat for All

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This Saturday, crowds and culinarians flocked to the Westfield Topanga Shopping Center to take part in the 1st Annual KCRW "Good Food" Pie Contest. Deep inside the mall was the event's center stage, where the 123 entered pies sat on long tables as a panel of judges comprised of local food writers, bakers, chefs, and gourmands took on the daunting task of tasting and evaluating every single one (not an easy job if you're a little hungover, eh Chef Stefan Richter?). Host Evan Kleiman kept the judges and crowd in check, presiding over this well-received event that served as a sort of culmination of her own months-long personal pie endeavor, the Pie-a-Day Project, as logged on the Good Food Blog.

As eager supporters and pie lovers clutched paper plates and plastic forks around the perimeter the tension mounted. Soon the judges narrowed the contenders down to the top five in each of 4 categories: Fruit & Nut; Cream/Custard/Chiffon/Mousse; Savory; and Interpretive (Defies Categorization).

The pies were clearly labors of love as the mounds of sliced fruit, carefully arranged crust petals, high-peaked meringues, and hand-written displayed recipe cards attested. Kleiman engaged the crowd by asking from which parts of town everyone hailed, and with the homey-kitchen aroma of the many splendid pies wafting through the space, it truly seemed like a slice of small-town USA in our very big city. But of course everyone was waiting to hear the winners, and for the ropes to drop so they could have a taste for themselves.