It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it, and so I gladly accepted the offer to be a judge at the first “Bake Bethesda a Pie” contest, sponsored by the Bethesda Central Farm Market, and held on Sunday, Sept. 5. Washington Post Deputy Food Editor Bonnie Benwick and I tasted our way through 27 entries baked by local residents, and what a varied selection they were! Ratatouille, heirloom tomato, grasshopper, key lime, shoo fly, peach, pecan, pawpaw, apple—you name it. All manner of crusts, too—single, double, lattice, graham cracker, chocolate, gluten-free. We rated the pies from one to 10 in four categories—appearance, crust, filling and originality, and then tallied up the scores.

The grand prize went to Cathy Barrow of Chevy Chase-D.C., a landscape designer and avid cook and home canner who made a terrific sour cherry pie decorated with dough stars. Barrow, who won a $100 gift certificate to Raku (and a blue ribbon), teaches cooking classes at her home and writes a cooking blog. (The recipes for the crust and home-canned sour cherries are on her blog,

The other winners:

Best savory pie: Deborah Shum/Ratatouille

Best peach pies

First place: Amanda Hurley/Ginger peach


Second place: Melissa Knoll/Peach plumble

Third place: Nikkie Lehrer/Peach blueberry

Best apple pie


Tied: Sharon Jaffe Dan and Teresita Monroe

Best pecan pie: Amanda Hurley/Chocolate coffee pecan

All the winners got prizes—restaurant gift certificates or Le Creuset cookware, and all the contestants received $5 certificates to the Bethesda Central Farm Market. In addition, the market donated $1,000 to the Manna Food Center. An old-fashioned good time was had by all.