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Passion, perfection and plenty of pies at the 7th Annual KCRW Pie Contest

Some of the over 130 fruit pie entries at the contest this year.

Some of the over 130 fruit pie entries at the contest this year.

(Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

This might have been the best year yet for pies at the 7th Annual KCRW Pie Contest — at least that’s what a number of judges thought as they checked out the 382 pies submitted this year.

If you’re a pie aficionado, odds are you’re familiar with the annual contest, held Oct. 4, at UCLA’s Fowler Museum. Maybe you even entered the contest. Categories included fruit, savory, cooked custard, cream, nut and vegan, along with a special “world” category.

The entries were varied and the skills shown were impressive, and choosing top pies in the various categories proved difficult at times. It wasn’t exactly a cage fight, but when you get a crowd of renowned chefs and food professionals together to fight for their favorites, things can get passionate. Especially when it comes to pies.

Was this crust overworked? What fat was used in that dough, and what type or types of flour? What about the thickener used in a particular fruit pie? The salt? Did the herbs overpower that filling, and was there too much nutmeg in this one? And what do you think about props — specifically, submitting a pie in a basket?

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While the debate about what constitutes a pie has pretty much been settled (KCRW offered up frequently asked questions — a tart is not a pie! — in advance of this year’s contest), the debate raged on over what constituted the best pie this year.

After determining the top pies in each category, it came down to Best in Show, with judges debating the merits of each. When a show of hands couldn’t clearly decide the winner, the judges physically broke into two camps — each backing their pie — to settle the score. And the steak and Guinness Pie won.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

Best in Show: Steak & Guinness by Rebecca Tosdevin.

Best Crust: Pecan Espresso Chocolate Chip by Tracy DeVore.

Fruit Pie: First: Triple Berry Cabernet by Tracy DeVore. Second: Salted Caramel Apple by Nicole Bigley. Third: Blood Orange with Vanilla Bean by Annette Eason.

Savory Pie: First: Steak & Guinness by Rebecca Tosdevin. Second: Lemon Herb Chicken Pot Pie by Sarah Mahoney. Third: Chicken Pot Pie by Amal Flores.

Cream Pie: First: Salted Chocolate Mud Pie with Rye Crust by Melissa Merritt. Second: Chocolate Silk Pie with a Brown Butter Shortbread by Emel Shaikh. Third: Chocolate Caramel Cream Pie by Mark Mitchell.

Cooked Custard: First: Lemon Blueberry Icebox by Carolyn Wheeler. Second: Coconut Custard by Geoffrey Geib. Third: Indiana Sugar Cream Pie by Michael Parsons.

Nut Pie: First: Bourbon Maple Pecan Pie by Scott Smith. Second: Pecan Espresso Chocolate Chip by Tracy DeVore. Third: Chocolate Pecan Pie by Claudia Guevara.

Vegan Pie: First: French Apple by Christopher Riedesel. Second: Bourbon Pear Frangipane by Jacqueline Pasche. Third: Vegan Peach & Berry by Andrew Reilman.

World Pie: First: Yuzu Pie by Todd Whitford. Second: Apple, Gogi Berry with Himalayan Honey and Sesame Pie by Lily Yu. Third: Southwest Ceylon Pumpkin, Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache, Cacao Nib, Pepita and Pine Brittle, by Sarah Bromell.

Love baking as much as I do? Follow me @noellecarter

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