Still dreaming of those idyllic high school days of talent shows, math problems and after-school slices of pie? Yeah, we're not either, but this Thursday night at Machine Project, you can have your strawberry rhubarb pie and eat it too — at the first-ever American Pi-dol talent show and pie-eating competition. This marathon-like series of pi(e)-themed competitions was dreamed up by Sarah Williams, the Echo Park-based pie maker who specializes in seasonal pies and tarts with her catering project, Fruit & Flour.
Wholesome, sugary and all-American, American Pi-dol celebrates the uber-geeky phenomenon of national Pi day, which always falls on March 14 to honor the mathematical constant 3.14. That is, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.
Signing up to compete in the talent show earns you three minutes of fame, or just enough time to spout off your pi-related knowledge (hint: your talents can also be pie-related) to compete to win a whole pie and a Machine Project membership. Top Chef Masters judge and former Squid Ink contributor Krista Simmons will judge the contest along with Machine Project director Mark Allen and a to-be-determined mathematician.
When we asked Allen via email to share some advice for contestants, he offered that contestants may bring in circles and other tools for reference, that performances should be both irrational and transcendental (just like the number pi), and that neatness counts.
Win, lose or watch, you'll still get a slice of Williams' strawberry rhubarb pie and a glass of wine, which is certainly an upgrade from all the talent shows we attended in high school.
If you can't wait until Thursday to celebrate pie in all its myriad transcendental forms, you might try making your own.
Strawberry rhubarb pie
From: Sarah Williams, of Machine Project
Makes: 1 pie
1 recipe of your favorite pie crust (double crust)
3 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
1/4 tsp salt
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg, or milk for wash
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, roll out pie dough into two rounds and place one round into a pie tin.
2. In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca and salt.
3. Add lemon zest, juice and vanilla.
4. Pour filling into the crust, place other round on top. Seal and crimp the edges and cut a few vents into the top.
5. Brush the top of the pie with an egg wash (one egg beaten with a bit of water) or milk, dust with sugar.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and center is bubbly.
American Pi-Dol starts Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at Machine Project, 1200 N. Alvarado. Sign up to compete on their website.
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