From the Food Editor: Arlington Heights baker wins two blue ribbons at national pie contest
I can't really say I was shocked when I got a call from Matt Zagorski sharing the news that he took first place in the cherry pie category at the National Pie Championships last month in Celebration Florida.
After all, the Arlington Heights dad won the coveted cherry pie division in 2012 with his Life is Pie Full of Cherries.
The surprise came when he relayed that he also won his first blue ribbon in the Cream Pie Category with his Irish Cream-spiked Pearl Bailey's Cream Pie.
"This year's event was full with seasoned competitors as well as a lot of new chefs," Zagorski said. "Each year it gets harder to stand out when so many pies get entered."
Zagorski entered nine pies into the competition, which took him about three days to create.
"By the time you add in the shopping, making the pie dough and the clean up -- you really have a full schedule," says Zagorski, who uses a friend's condo in Florida as his pie-making HQ. "The day before I turned in my pies, my wife and I pulled an all-nighter. I have not done that in 15 years."
As in previous years, Zagorski's 2015 cherry pie, dubbed Ain't No Pits in this Cherry Pie, featured tart Montmorency cherries from King Orchards in Michigan.
"As for the rest of my pies -- and especially the cream pies -- I am blessed to have a wife with a really great palate who can tell me just what is right, or wrong, with a pie. She tries all of my pies. I would be lost without her."
Meet and greet: Country music fans and cooking enthusiasts listen up! Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman is heading to Naperville to talk about and sign copies of her first cookbook, "Oh Gussie!" at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville.
In the book Schlapman shares her favorite tastes of Southern cooking. Purchase a book in advance and secure your place in line for the book signing. Anderson's Bookshop is at 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville. (630) 355-2665.
Moving on: Today marks my last From the Food Editor column for the Daily Herald. After nearly 18 years in this role, I am turning in my pen and apron.
I will continue to write Edible Explorations with my son Henry for Suburban Parent, as well as the occasional restaurant review and food story, so you haven't read the last of me ... yet.
A co-worker asked what my favorite memory was and I couldn't name just one. I've interviewed Julia Child at the Chicago Botanic Garden, shared lunch with Jacques Pepin at Marshall Field's, accompanied Gale Gand as she filmed a television show and chatted with Guy Fieri about family dinners at home. I've talked with kindergartners about why they should eat vegetables, judged suburban and national cooking contests, crowned four Cook of the Week Challenge winners and swapped recipes with and dispensed advice to countless readers. And I think that last part is what I'll miss the most.