Judging the Pie Contest at the Orange County Fair (aka Best Job in the World)

by Dorothy Reinhold on July 20, 2011

Print This Post Print This Post Judging the Pie Contest at the Orange County Fair Last week I was called to Costa Mesa on a divine mission — to judge the delicious pies submitted to the Orange County Fair.

Now folks, we can joke that this was a dirty job, that someone had to do it, and that someone was going to have to be this pie girl.

Dorothy Reinhold judging pie contest at Orange County Fair July 2011But the truth is, judging a pie contest is a job made in heaven for a foodie.

And as the proud owner of 20 ribbons from entering my own pies in contests, I can say it was enlightening to sit on the other side of the table for a change.

Here’s how it went down.

First, I surveyed the pie-laden table.

Judging the pie contest at the Orange County Fair July 2011Not so bad, eh? I knew I had to have a least 1 bite of each pie. I can do this, no problem.

Kevin Oswalt at the Orange County FairI had my official OC Fair helper, the charming and capable Kevin Oswalt, who kept me on the straight and narrow. He would not let me get distracted by all the other judging going on in the room! He carried my official judging book, into which my sweet assessments would be written.

These pies looked delectable!

Vegan triple chocolate

S’Mores chocolate

Double crust apple with cute cutouts on the top crust

Double crust candied apple pie with sugary nuts and syrup caramelized on top (oh my)

Every one of them spoke of a loving hand rolling out the crust, a talented home baker assessing the sweetness of the fruit or creaminess of the custard, a chocolate lover figuring out whether semisweet, bitter, nibs or cocoa might be the best solution. These pies were picture perfect!

Judging the pie contest at the Orange County Fair July 2011

We got to work labeling each pie with its tag on top. We tried to cut them respectfully, and we laid each little sliver on a paper plate for tasting.

Judging the pie contest at the Orange County Fair July 2011

It was both an easy job and a hard job. Easy (delicious, fun, interesting) because hey, I was pie tasting! Hard because whenever I picked a winner in each class, that meant a number of bakers would also be disappointed that their creation didn’t make it to the top. I’ve been there. I know it stings.

Next all of the top-rated cakes, pies, breads, cookies, etc. in the room, all judged by chefs, caterers and food professionals, were assembled on one big table, for the final contest.

We were to taste everything and we each had 1 vote to cast for the Best of Show.

Blackberry Glace Pie by Valynn HyerI’m proud to say that the pie I judged to be best in its division — Blackberry Glace Pie (Single or mixed berry), baked by Valynn Hyer, beat out all the cookies, cakes, yeast breads, etc.

Yep,  on judgment day in the Culinary Arts Department, pie won!

Practically in a sugar coma, I waddled away from the table. “Not so fast,” said darling Kevin. “You’re not done. You still have to judge the youth cookies category!”

What? No one prepared me for that! I would have paced myself with the pies if I had known.

Oh well. On to the cute cookies. Luckily I had my own cute cookie along — my darling DramaQueen.

Katie Reinhold judging cookies

Hey, who ate the frog’s leg?

Orange County Fair
This year’s theme: “Let’s Eat”
Through Aug. 14
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate July 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Wow – what a job, delicious though – looks like a divine winning creation too !!


Priscilla - She's Cookin' July 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Berry pies rule! Last year it was a blueberry pie with lattice top made from a recipe with Rhode Island roots, if my mind serves me right 😉 That blackberry glace looks scrumptious – well deserved!


Kathleen July 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I sooooo want this job!


Renee Fontes July 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

What a wonderful post! You captured the fair at it’s sweetest moment! Dorothy you are a great judge, thanks for your expertise and see you Saturday!


Kaycee July 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

So, you are copying the recipe of the winner and mailing us a taste, right???


Dorothy July 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I am attempting to get the winning recipe!


Kristina Vanni July 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

Wow, looks like both of us had a fun as cooking contest judges lately! As a huge pie connoisseur, this looks absolutely outstanding 🙂 Would love to see some of those delicious recipes!


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