Eat pie and feed the hungry? Sounds like a flippant gesture by cake-enthusiast Marie Antoinette, that decadent queen, but Michele Ostrove, president of Wings Media Network (organizer of upcoming spectacular Holiday Pie Mania) says, “It’s a win-win.” HPM kicks off its second year with a whole warehouse worth of food samples (suck it, Costco!) Plus, it’s a charity, benefitting the local Food Depot.
Last year, proceeds from Pie Mania helped build a new food warehouse for the non-profit. So, you might ask, what the heck is Pie Mania?
It‘s like Iron Chef, sort of. “Have you been to Builders Source Appliance Gallery?” asks Ostrove. The outside is nothing to write home about, a basic run-of-the-mill warehouse, but inside is a pretty nifty setup of kitchenettes, where, during Pie Mania, 18 chefs man 18 stations, and each one takes a swing at swooning the masses with his/her most noteworthy pie. Ostrove goes through the list of participating chefs, from A to Z, which, due to the allotted amount of space, I’ll sum up with the chronological start and finish: from Ahmed Obo of Jambo Cafe to Xavier Grenet of L’Olivier (opening soon). And, not to mention, special guest-chef Kathy Knapp, “the pie lady from Pie Town,” owner of restaurant Pie-O-Neer, who’s literally from Pie Town, that middle-of-nowhere speck on a map, east on Highway 60 in Catron County, where people drive four hours out of their way, just to sample the best pie in town. So, she’ll be there too, baking alongside chefs from Four Seasons (Andrew Cooper), Luminaria (Brett Sparman) and Momo & Co. (Leslie Thompson).
But don’t expect your typical rhubarb or your plain Jane apple to be dished and served; this ain’t your grandma’s steak and kidney pie either. Last year saw total reinventions of nostalgic staples like pumpkin green chile, pear almond cream, pomegranate mousse and, just because it’s Santa Fe, Frito pie too.
And why pies? Of all the foods, the myriad of options, why pies? In 1621, at the first supposed Thanksgiving celebration, historians speculate, meat pie was on the menu because the top crust acted as a lid to preserve the insides consisting of fowl and venison seasoned with cinnamon, peppercorn and nutmeg. Thus, with such practical beginnings, the pie, throughout generations has evolved into an American standard, and eventually got its own national day (Jan. 23, in case you didn’t know.)
Taking things a step further, Holiday Pie Mania also boasts a pie auction (last year, some pies sold for a whopping $150), hosted by chef John Vollertsen, aka “The Pie Piper,” the esteemed man of ceremonies. With such humble-pie beginnings, Pie Mania is, no doubt, a delightful force to be reckoned with. (Tess Cutler)
Holiday Pie Mania
1-5 pm Saturday, Nov 9. $5-$7.
Builders Source Appliance Gallery
1608 Pacheco St., 982-5563