Life

Famous Chefs Tell Us Where They Had The Best Pie Of Their Lives


Because people are not happy unless they are pitting two beloved items against one another and forcing others to make a choice, the cake v. pie debate has been waged ardently across internet platforms. It hasn’t exactly torn families apart, but it does make you look askance at someone you thought you knew… before they revealed their ugly little preference. Clearly, pie is the winner. Shut up. It is. Pie is the dessert of the people. It is humble. It is a celebration of essentials, rather than some exercise in frippery. It is steeped in tradition. Above all, it’s delicious. If you don’t like a perfectly flaky crust, you are a monster.

When pie is good, it is an orgastic moment in a relatively humdrum timeline of eating. You will remember wolfing down a good piece of pie. When we asked some well-respected chefs about the best pie they have ever eaten, it didn’t take them long to recall those memories at all. They were on it! And, they aren’t all fruit pies, which will cheer those of you who perversely insist that fruit soaked in sugar isn’t dessert. Even the most ardent of cake fans among out readers will feel a mounting craving for a good old slice of heaven when reading through these responses.

Restaurant Marin (Costa Mesa, CA)

Chef Mark McDonald — Executive Chef and Owner, Old Vine Cafe

Restaurant Marin in Costa Mesa, CA would have to be my latest spot for pie. Their cakes are pretty awesome too!

The Pie Hole (Orange, CA)

This is a new favorite, as I never had a favorite pie place until I was introduced to The Pie Hole in Orange, California. I was cooking for a party at a friend’s house and he had picked up all of these pies from The Pie Hole, and they were insanely good. I had to have a little taste of each one. My favorite was the Mom’s Apple Crumble. It was the best pie I have ever had in my life, hot and à la mode! Really dialed in texture and flavors. Now, I stop by whenever I am in the area.

4 & Twenty Blackbirds (Guilford, CT) and The Flying Fish Café (Wellfleet, MA)

Chef Elizabeth Blau — Founder/CEO, Blau + Associates

A toss-up, although both are New England staples: 4 & Twenty Blackbirds in Guilford, CT and The Flying Fish Café in Wellfleet, MA. At 4 & Twenty, the use of seasonal fresh fruits provides a burst of flavor in every bite, and you get this smell of what you think Heaven would smell like when you walk in! Just be aware that 4 & Twenty doesn’t accept credit cards. At Flying Fish Café, they may have the most amazing Blueberry pie ever created.

Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ (Decatur, AL)

Chef Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ — Grillmaster, Dr. BBQ

I’ve spent a lot of my life touring the country’s BBQ restaurants and, as you might imagine, many of the great meals I’ve had ended with a slice of pie. It’s Americana on a plate, and there is none better than the lemon ice box pie at Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ in Decatur, Alabama. Every morning before the sun comes up, the pie ladies are busy cooking the tangy lemon filling and whipping the mile-high meringue. Yes, these pies are homemade fresh every day and you should see the amount they sell for the holidays! This pie is what you wish your grandma would make for you.

The slices are served large and the perfect combo of sweet, fluffy, tart and creamy. Their chocolate and coconut cream pies are great as well, but for me, lemon is the best.

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And there's always room for pie. @bigbobgibsonbbq

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The Pie Hole (Southern CA and Tokyo, Japan)

Chef Andrew Gruel — Multiple Concepts at TRADE

Mexican chocolate pie from The Pie Hole is dangerous. The huge slab of Mexican chocolate tastes like a true hot chocolate with warm spices, and it’s topped with a giant dollop (10X) of espresso cream. This is just one of their genius creations. To be honest, however, I would eat any and all pies from The Pie Hole because they are just that perfect.

Emporium Pies (Dallas, TX)

Emporium Pies in Dallas, TX literally takes the pie (because they don’t serve cake). My favorite pie lives up to its name, Lord of the Pies. Apples, caramel, handmade & flaky crust – served as a tall tower of goodness. Eat with a cup of black coffee and you’re set!

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Cloud Nine. 🍽🌤

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Dangerously Delicious Pies (Washington D.C.)

Chef Katy Smith — Executive Creative Chef, Puesto

Berger cookies are basically a part of the fabric of Baltimore, Maryland. They are a shortbread-type cookie topped with chocolate fudge and made locally. Dangerously Delicious Pies makes a pie called The Baltimore Bomb. It is a vanilla chess pie with Berger cookie pieces baked inside. It forms that gorgeous crisp sugar crust on top. It’s over the top and the stuff dreams are made of.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BBWi7c_Djww/

Blue Door Kitchen and Garden (Chicago, IL)

Chef Lorena Garcia — Featured Chef, CHICA at The Venetian Las Vegas

My dear friend Chef Art Smith swears he makes the best fried chicken in the world, although I think mine gives him a run for his money. What he is hands down the master of is all things sweet. His Hummingbird Cake at his Homecoming restaurant in Orlando is the stuff of dreams, but Uproxx asked about pie, so I have to give proper homage to the best lemon meringue pie I have ever tasted at his superb farm-to-table restaurant in Chicago: Blue Door Kitchen and Garden. This lemon meringue pie with cornflake crust is out of this world. He uses Meyer lemons, which add an incredible balance to the sweet and tart equation that makes lemon meringue pie perfection.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNlXnGlDlr7/

Daphne’s Desserts (Sherman Oaks, CA)

Chef Bryce Fluellen — Chef, American Heart Association

I love the sweet bean pie at Daphne’s Desserts in Sherman Oaks. Its such a treat because you would never imagine a pie with the word “bean” in it would be so delicious!! The sweet bean reminds me of my late Aunt Bessie’s sweet potato pie that she would make every Thanksgiving, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The buttery crust is a perfect match of texture for every creamy, sweet, soft bean bite. You have to buy a couple to share because no one will believe you when you tell them how you just fulfilled your sweet tooth with a pie that had beans in it!

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