Pie-making is raised – literally and figuratively – to an art form on ‘Thanksgiving Pie Fight’

‘Thanksgiving Pie Fight’ – Treat for the eye and palate

Pie may be one of the purest forms of comfort food but it’s also art, and it’s at the center of a holiday competition series coming up this week on Food Network.

On “Thanksgiving Pie Fight,” premiering Thursday, Nov. 14, four top amateur pie bakers endeavor to create pies that not only are pleasing to the palate but also intricate, imaginative and outrageous in their designs, with some stacked up to over a foot in height. The winner, as determined by a judging panel of Nacho Aguirre (“Girl Scout Cookie Championship”), Scott Conant (“Chopped”) and TV/movie producer Jessica Clark-Bojin, wins a $10,000 prize.

The first part of the competition is called the “Pie-scraper Challenge” – a play on “skyscraper” – about which host Sunny Anderson (“The Kitchen”) explains, “Obviously for that one, we’re looking for height (and if it is) sturdy so it travels well or moves well from table to table. You know, you’ve always got to transport (the pie) and that was always one of my most favorite parts about watching shows like this, where they built something gargantuan. You know, can it move?”

And the pie must look good – and not just from the front.

“Think about 360 degrees,” Anderson says. “So you could turn the pie around and every single side of it is beautiful, and sometimes the pie-scrapers, they’ll give them like a back and so you have a face-forward, more of a presentation side. But some of these pies are just truly spectacular and definitely go over a foot, so it’s something to watch.”

Another thing to watch, according to Anderson, are the bakers themselves. All come from other professions and have had no formal training, hence they’re not used to baking on the clock – or on TV.

“I think that all of them found out what we all find out when we get on TV,” Anderson says with a hearty laugh. “It’s not exactly the same. It’s a little bit more stress, a lot more adrenaline and time flies like you wouldn’t believe. Then in addition to that, you’re not even in your own kitchen. You know, you’re on a stage, a set that has been built and they put a kitchen together for you but you’re a little bit out of sorts. So we give the bakers enough time to create and that’s really important.”

Still, Anderson reports, time management was an issue for some.

“There were a couple of other moments where we’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, are they going to finish? Are they going to get this thing done? Or is it going to fall over?’ ” she says. “And we had a couple of catastrophes, I can’t give it all away but it was truly fun to see in person.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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