A Brooklyn Pie Social: Top Chef/F&W’s Gail Simmons

You know your school’s fundraiser is a step above the average PTA’s when the pie contest is judged by senior staff from Food & Wine.

(l-r) Food & Wine Publisher Christina Baltz, Gail Simmons, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and F&W Restaurant Editor Kate Krader

The first round of judges included parents and teachers from PS29& PS8. They chose winners from each category: fruity, nutty, sweet/creamy and savory. After that went down, the big guns arrived to choose a champion. F&W’s Publisher Christina Baltz, Restaurant Editor Kate Krader and Special Projects honcho/Top Chef judge Gail Simmons tasted each of the finalists and chose a winner (Brooklyn Borough Pres. Marty Markowitz showed up after the judging, but the man loves a photo-op). Read on for a pie Q&A with Gail:

Gail was gracious enough to answer a few questions about pie. Apologies for the brevity, but I wasn’t planning on doing any interviews so I was a bit caught off guard. Serendipity, if ever.

Have you ever judged a pie contest before? No, this is my first official pie contest. I’ve judged many other food competitions, but never just pie. I jumped at the chance to be here.

What are you doing out here in Brooklyn, do you live here? No, but my husband and I are house hunting so we’re in the neighborhood most weekends. I might be that lady hanging out outside of your building asking you to sell your apartment!

So, what were you looking for in the winning pie? Oh, the crust. Definitely. It needs to be flaky, but golden, with a little bit of salt and a nice amount of butter.

How many pies did you try? We only tried the four finalists, but I wish we had gotten to try more. There are so many amazing looking pies here. I’m really impressed with how creative some of them are.

Did your favorite win? Yes! Did you try it?

I did! And I’ll tell you all about it next. I was a bit bummed Gail didn’t get to try my Concord Grape pie, given the first part of the Top Chef finale…they cooked with grapes!


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