by Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is the proud father of one of the contestants mentioned below.
The pies have been baked, delivered, presented, sampled, and judged, and the votes have been tallied. It is now official; the winners of the 7th Annual Lyons Pie Baking Contest at The Stone Cup are: Fruit – Carol Marra, Pumpkin – Carolyn Kern, and Pecan – Nancy Van Domelen/Maya Lekarczyk. Congratulations to “The Best Pie Bakers In Lyons!”
Each year Sam and Mindy Tallent, owners of The Stone Cup, hold this contest as a fundraiser for the annual Christmas Parade and Fireworks Display. The rules are easy: just bake two identical pies, one for the judges and samplers, and the other for sale after the contest (contestants may enter one or more categories if they so choose). All the proceeds and donations go to help defray the cost of the festivities.
This year nineteen bakers vied for the prestigious titles, and according to the judges (who have requested anonymity) the competition was extremely close and contentious. In the fruit division, always a crowd favorite, some bakers went with the traditional apple pie, while others opted to set themselves apart from the crowd. One daring baker tried creating a tart rather than a pie, while young Bevyn Osborne wowed the crowd with her raspberry/pear pie. Clearly, the judges were rewarding those who dared to go out on a limb. In this case it was Marra, whose winning entry was a previously unheard of avocado/lime pie! Christy Cope and daughter Halina took home honorable mention in the fruit category with a beautiful apple pie with a visually stunning (and tasty) crust in the shape of leaves! In the pumpkin division, the choices of the judges and crowd were all over the board. Here the judges’ tastes swung back toward the traditional. Kern’s pie was given the nod in a squeaker, over Calista Morrill (honorable mention). A daring and deserving pie (kind of a hybrid – pumpkin, with crumbled pecans on top) was created by Chris Cope (husband of Christy) and other daughter Olivia, (boy I sure hope I get an invite to the Cope household for a little post-turkey dessert) but more on that later.
In the pecan wars, two pies stood head and shoulders above the rest. Both added chocolate to their recipes (never a bad idea). Pie baking veteran (a past champion, and this year’s honorable mention) Jerry Powell was bested this year by his across- the-street neighbor, Maya Lekarczyk, and her Bama (the Mayor’s mother). Nine-year-old Lekarczyk gleefully proclaimed, “I think it was my braided crust that put us over the top. All my hours of watching Sweet Genius, Chopped, Iron Chef, and Cupcake Wars on the food network finally paid off!”
In a separate, but in some eyes, equal competition – The People’s Choice Awards, the masses (and there were many) felt that Osborne’s raspberry/pear pie was the tastiest, and Monica Berreman took home honorable mention for fruit. Olivia C., and her Dad garnered top honors with their pumpkin/pecan hybrid, with Bevyn Osborne snagging honorable mention for her pumpkin pie. And Powell found some solace by beating out his next-door neighbor (Lekarczyk/Van Domelen were voted honorable mention) in the pecan division. The people and judges have spoken (until next year)!
All in all, it was a tasty Sunday morning at The Cup. Congratulations go out to all the winners, and a huge thank-you goes out to all of the skilled bakers for their delicious entries, Sam and Mindy, all the judges, and of course, to the generous people who sampled and bought pies for the holiday; especially one anonymous (Rick and Linda England of England Surveying) purchaser, who generously paid a King’s Ransom for one pie. Enjoy the fireworks everybody!