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When the call came from F&W publisher Christina Grdovic, I was psyched. Could I help judge the pie contest at her son Henry’s Brooklyn school, P.S. 29, just blocks away from my house? Um, yes! Then, the deal got even better. Top Chef’s supersonic judge and my beloved colleague (and author of the awesome story Rescue that Top Chef Recipe in our just-out January issue) Gail Simmons came on board to rate the pies, too. And thank goodness she was there, because the competition was fierce among the 30-odd pies. A team of intrepid pre-judges narrowed the field down to one finalist in each of four categories: Savory (Gorgonzola-pear); Fruit (pear tatin); Custard (coconut cream); Nut (pecan-maple). Gail was awesome: Even without the benefit of a judges table, she picked out details of the various crusts and fillings. And the winner was…no, not Borough President Marty Markowitz, who showed up just in time to try all the pies and hand out Brooklyn pins. It was the custard coconut cream, from a father who had apparently never made a pie before. Look for him on Season 7 of Top Chef.
Pie experts Christina Grdovic, Gail Simmons, Marty Markowitz and me