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Online Pie Auction Brings Together Top Chefs for Scholarships

FestEvents Foundation’s Emily Mantooth (from left), Alison Matis and Cheryl WeisEXPAND
FestEvents Foundation’s Emily Mantooth (from left), Alison Matis and Cheryl Weis
Manny Rodriguez

Some of Dallas’ best chefs are focusing on pie this month.

The FestEvents Foundation is putting together the Piehole Project, an online pie auction to support its culinary and hospitality scholarship program, Chefs of Tomorrow.

With 25 chefs from North Texas participating, expect more than your regular flavors. While you can find a coconut cream pie (Susan Lor, Gemma), caramel-apple and streusel pie (Dunia Borga, La Duni Baking Studio) and Mexican chocolate-pecan pie (Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, José), you’ll also see on the list avocado pie (Rain McDermott, Dallas Caramel Co.), chili-cheese dog pie (Eric Friedline, Petra and the Beast) and strawberry-burnt ends pie (Doug Pickering, DWP BBQ).

Going through the list, our eyes were drawn to the Lieutenant Dan pie, only because of the name, then in no way were we surprised that one is by chef Josh Harmon (Birdie Bao). It’s a milk chocolate, pretzel and pecan pie with a peanut butter caramel that sounds lovely.

Chef Jeana Johnson is dipping into history with Desperation Pie (aka, vinegar pie). As the auction site says: “This classic pie originated in the 1800s when pie flavorings were hard to come by. Vinegar was a readily available alternative. The texture is similar to Chess pie but the vinegar brings a different, dynamic flavor. I first had this pie at Underbelly in Houston and was INSTANTLY obsessed. It also forms a crunchy sugar crust while baking that is probably illegal in several states.”

For Johnson, who went to Dallas College El Centro Campus, this kind of work is important — in the era of COVID-19 and otherwise.

“I am committed to our future generation of cooks having access to education and mentoring. And making pie is a really fun way to contribute,” she says.

The pies are available for your bidding Oct. 12-25, starting at $75 a pie. Raffle tickets are also an option: $10 gets you a chance to win a surprise pie by one for four culinary standouts, as deemed by the Piehole Project: Emporium Pies, Sarah Green (Pirate Cookies), Jill McCord (Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Education at Collin College) and Emily Mantooth (FestEvents Foundation board member and two-time blue-ribbon pie contest winner at the State Fair of Texas).

Pies will be available for contactless pickup Oct. 28-30 at the Dallas College Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality Center (11830 Webb Chapel Road in Northwest Dallas). Winners will be contacted after the auction ends to schedule their pie pickup times. (Delivery for $20 is available, too.)

“Supporting students is the equivalent of supporting the future of our industry," says Steve DeShazo, senior director of Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality at El Centro. "My role at Dallas College is wrapped around increasing student success and industry engagement. I am inspired by all the chefs who are involved and appreciate everyone’s support of the Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund."

Proceeds from the Piehole Project will support this program, which awards $1,000 scholarships to students at local culinary schools. In its two years, Chefs of Tomorrow has provided $20,000 in scholarships.

"This is our industry. We step up." chef Chad Houser says. "Cafe Momentum is here today because of the character and generous nature of our industry."

Chef Nikky Phinyawatana and Steve DeShazoEXPAND
Chef Nikky Phinyawatana and Steve DeShazo
Manny Rodriguez

Good pies for a good cause sounds like a nice thing.

Another good thing is the work of photographer Manny Rodriguez, who captured these top chefs. We’ll throw those below to give you a laugh.

(By the way: Chef Katherine Clapner confirms it took two days to get the flour out of her hair that chef Matt McCallister joyously dumped on her head.)

Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 1EXPAND
Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 1
Manny Rodriguez
Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 2EXPAND
Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 2
Manny Rodriguez
Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 3EXPAND
Katherine Clapner and Matt McCallister: Scene 3
Manny Rodriguez
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 1EXPAND
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 1
Manny Rodriguez
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 2EXPAND
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 2
Manny Rodriguez
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 3
Jeana Johnson and Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman: Scene 3
Manny Rodriguez
Petra and the Beast's Eric Friedline pours flour on his boss, Misti Norris.EXPAND
Petra and the Beast's Eric Friedline pours flour on his boss, Misti Norris.
Manny Rodriguez

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