Scalloped potato, spiced cherry, toasted s’mores and Hawaiian sweet potato. With roughly 40 pies vying for a winning spot Sunday, the Bloomington Pie Contest judges had their work cut out for them.
About 140 people came to Dimension Mill for the Bloomington Pie Contest, the first competition of its kind in town. The contest doubled as a fundraiser for the Community Kitchen of Monroe County.
Rachel Glago, whose favorite pie flavor is pecan, organized the event after seeing some of her friends do a similar event in Santa Barbara, California. She said she wanted to bring the event to Bloomington. With Thanksgiving coming up, the time of the year fit the occasion.
“Pie makes sense,” she said. “And who doesn’t love pie?”
Glago said she supports Community Kitchen’s mission to fight food insecurity, and she wants all of Bloomington to be aware of local issues and the organizations addressing them. The contest raised more than $1,200 for Community Kitchen, enough to provide about 600 meals, she said.
The contest was split into five categories: sweet, savory, gluten-free, pies made by kids and people’s choice.
Amy Roche, 51, helped judge the sweet pies at the contest. Roche is a professional baker starting her own pie business and has been making pies since she was a child. She tasted the pies with the best presentation first.
“I think it’s important for a pie to be tantalizing,” Roche said. “It can kind of spark your appetite.”
Roche said the textures of the crust and filling can make or break a pie. She also looked for creativity and balance of flavors.
Roche’s favorite pies included a blackberry buttermilk custard tart, caramel apple crumb pie and apple rhubarb ginger pie.
Alex Henderson, 28, doesn’t bake pies, but he said he likes sweets and trying new foods.
“This seemed like a good combination of all those things,” he said.
After trying most of the pies, Henderson’s top three pies were the Hawaiian sweet potato pie, shepherd’s pie and spiced cherry pie.
Eli Parker-Reyes, 30, came with Henderson to the event. He said he hadn’t tasted a single bad pie, but he was concerned for people with dietary restrictions.
“It’s a good event, but an improvement would be requiring an ingredients list for all pies,” he said.
Hannah Gooding, 26, and her sister Rebeccah Collingsworth, 27, were the winners in the people’s choice category for their caramel apple crumb pie.
“She has never won something so exciting as a pie contest,” Gooding said about her sister.
Gooding, who is from Indianapolis, said she was looking for things to do with her sister while she visited Indiana from Fort Worth, Texas.
Collingsworth said baking pies has always been a family tradition. Growing up, their mom made pies from scratch, and the sisters would play with the scraps of dough. That tradition has stayed with their family.
“When we got to make our first pie on our own, that was like a rite of passage,” Collingsworth said. “As we’ve all grown into adults, we’ve enjoyed trying new recipes and sharing in them together.”
The sisters spent the whole day before preparing the dough and filling. The crust is Gooding’s recipe, and the filling is Collingsworth’s.
After the event, Glago said she was amazed at the community’s enthusiasm and the amount they raised for Community Kitchen.
“It’s a really incredible community here in Bloomington,” she said.