Standing Ovation for Apple Pie Baking Competition

Courtesy of Zachary Kreines ’25

On Nov. 16, a long line wound through Eldridge Commons in the Science Center as campus community members eagerly waited to taste and vote for their favorite apple pies. Organized by the Office of Sustainability, the second annual Apple Pie Baking Competition (APBC) saw over twenty pies baked by students, staff, and faculty competing for prizes including “Pie Perfection” (best overall), “Pie in the Sky” (most creative), and “Apple of My Eye” (prettiest). 

Green Advisor (GA) Coordinator Juna Saito ’25 and Associate Director of Sustainability Clare Hyre organized the competition as part of Saito’s sustainability advocacy project. Saito viewed the competition not only as an opportunity to celebrate the fall festivities but also to encourage people to make their own food. 

“The original idea was that you think a little bit more about your food system, get involved with it, and enjoy celebrating it. Last year, the GA coordinator, Elena Lee ’23, proposed it and ​​we [provided the participants with] local ingredients, which we kind of gathered ourselves. But, this year, the ingredients came from the Dining Center,” Saito said. 

In an interview with The Phoenix, Linda McDougall, director of dining services, described her collaboration with the Office of Sustainability on gathering and distributing ingredients needed for APBC. 

“We provided [contestants with] apples, spices, flour, sugar and a pre-made pie crust. The apples we serve all year round are always from Beechwood Orchard in Lewisville, PA,” McDougall stated. 

Acknowledging that there was less focus on ensuring the ingredients were local compared to last year, Saito hopes to increase the elements of sustainability in next year’s competition. 

“Ideally, next year, we’d love to have signs about where things are from or signs about how to be more conscious when you’re baking. This year, we were fine-tuning some details, figuring out where it should be held, who should be involved, what ingredients and who should be providing them, so the event can continue to happen annually,” Saito explained.

Additionally, Saito looks forward to seeing how the reopening of the community commons next year might change the event since she plans to host it on the same day as the annual harvest dinner again. The harvest dinner celebrates not only the harvest season, but also the relationships between local food suppliers and the college community, highlighting the College’s dedication to eating local. 

“Hopefully this time next year, the [community commons in] old Sharples will be open again so that we can hold events there. [That way] it can really be a part of harvest dinner as it was intended to be. We want it to be an event [where] you can go celebrate the pies, celebrate the fall, and then move straight into the harvest dinner, which is a pretty popular meal on campus,” she said. 

The event was originally planned to be hosted in the Dining Center on the second floor teaching kitchen so that participants could head to the harvest dinner afterwards. The location was switched to Eldridge Commons a day before APBC to open the event to non-student members of the community. 

With the opening of the community commons next year, McDougall hopes to host the APBC there. 

“Next year is going to be much easier because we’ll have the commons open next door, so nobody’s going to have to come through [the Dining Center]. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but I think it’ll get better as we move forward,” she stated.

Andrea Cheah ’27, Emily Kerimian ’25 and Sylvia Myers ’26 won the “Pie Perfection” award. Cheah noted that the event had a great turnout, was well organized, and that the bakers had a fulfilling and fun time. 

When asked how her team made their apple pie stand out, Cheah revealed that they found inspiration from their teammate’s mother. 

“Emily’s mother recommended that we should make a streusel, a crumbly, crunchy topping, and we also adapted her recipe along the way. We ended up tripling the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg we used, so [the filling] was just saturated, super thinly sliced apples with a lot of spice,” she said.

Reflecting on the APBC, Cheah felt glad that she ultimately chose to participate despite having a busy week, and viewed the event as a great opportunity to do something fun with friends. 

Saito similarly hopes to continue the event’s aspect of fun while focusing on both sustainability and the community. 

“This is definitely a festive legacy that we’re trying to keep going, so I’m hoping that it still continues to be a good community-oriented project that people are enjoying, coming to and supporting.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading