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Eat and Drink

You Can Judge the Inventing Room’s National Pie Day Contest

Reserve your ticket to taste and judge pies made by local baking pros at the virtual event, hosted by the sweets shop and pie expert John Lehndorff.

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Not to be confused with National Pi Day on March 14, National Pie Day arrives on January 23. To honor the day that exalts all things crust, crumb, and filling, the Inventing Room and John Lehndorff—former Rocky Mountain News dining critic and the state’s foremost pie expert—are hosting a virtual pie contest where you can eat, judge, and learn all about pie from the comfort of your own dining room table or couch. (National Pie day knows no judgement.)

“I’ve been celebrating National Pie Day one way or another for probably 40 years,” Lehndorff says. “I saw the holiday was coming up this year, and I knew I wouldn’t be going out to have pie with anybody… People, they still want to get together with other people and eat and talk about food, the things they used to do at restaurants and bakeries. Let’s get together and talk about pie.”

To join in on the fun, reserve your $65 ticket here, pick up the seven different mini pies and your official judging sheets from the Inventing Room Dessert Shop in Sunnyside, and then put on your stretchy pants and settle in on January 23 at 12 p.m. to feast upon and rate the pies. Lehndorff will lead the Zoom judging, instructing participants on the delicate art of crust appraisal and how to rate a filling. The man knows what he’s talking about—he’s judged more than 100 pie contests, was the founding executive director of the American Pie Council, and served as director of the Great American Pie Festival.

His advice? “One, be hungry—it’s seven small pies,” Lehndorff says. “The next thing is don’t bite into the pies until we get together. We’re going to talk about the right way to judge pie and the kinds of things to think about when we do that. Look at the visual part of it. And then you judge the crust—the top crust, bottom crust, the crimp around the edge. Then you talk about the filling, and, ultimately, it’s about the feeling. Which of these seven pies do I love? Which would I love to have another one of?”

The brave pie competitors are Corrie Sharp and Jennifer Tom (Bubby Goober’s Baked Goods); Jennifer Noelani Akina (Shamrock Food Service); Nadine Donovan (Steuben’s); Saura Kline (Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group): Larry Green (Granny Scott’s Pie Shop); John Hinman (Hinman Pie); and Stacey Kleinman (Catering by The Inventing Room). If eating seven pies in a single sitting hasn’t already sold you on the event, know too that proceeds will be donated to Project Angel Heart in the name of Brandon Foster, the Angel Heart chef who died tragically last summer.

Also, it just might be your duty as a Coloradoan, considering that National Pie Day was created in Boulder in 1975. If you’re short on funds or think seven pies is a pie or two too much, Lehndorff is hosting another Zoom celebration for National Pie Day, this one free, on January 23 at 3 pm. You know what to do.

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