Toni Layoun's pie wins top honors at the farmers market's bake-off

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, judges Adam Kekahuna, Drew Carney, Jenni Tan and Alice Richmond taste selections from the 13 pies submitted to the bake-off.When Toni Layoun set to work last Wednesday on her homemade — and soon to be award-winning — pecan pie, she realized it had been years since she baked one entirely from scratch.

She usually used a Pillsbury crust mix, just to streamline the process a bit. But on this day, just hours before the West Linn Farmers Market’s first pie bake-off contest, Layoun had to follow the rules and make her pie entirely from scratch.

And so, although she had been baking pies since she was little, Layoun did not expect to win anything when she dropped the finished product off at the judging tent. While other bakers stayed close to the tent to watch their pies be judged, Layoun sat at a table just out of eyesight from the proceedings. When her named was announced as the grand prize winner, she jumped out of her chair.

“I was pretty pleased with the pie,” Layoun said. “But I can’t believe it won.”

The judges for this inaugural contest were Alice Richmond, City Councilor Jenni Tan, Quartet restaurant executive chef Adam Kekahuna and KGW reporter Drew Carney. Gathered behind an L-shaped table, they carefully sampled each of the 13 pies, the flavors of which included everything from lemon meringue to marionberry, apple and cherry.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - An apple pie was one of the 13 submissions to the contest.

“It’s all good!” Tan said as she made her way around the table.

Tan also enlisted her children to help her with the tasting.

“This is just a fun community event,” Tan said. “All of my comments were, ‘Very good,’ ‘very good,’ ‘very good.’ But the pecan stood out — the taste was excellent.”As a grand prize, Layoun received a gift basket that contained a number of items from local shops including a cookbook, a rolling pin, cookie cutters and a gift card to Kekahuna’s Quartet restaurant in Portland.

“We’ll have to go try that out,” Layoun said.

The idea for the pie bake-off was generated back in March during the initial planning stages for the market. Under new management, organizers were looking to add new events to attract customers on a weekly basis.

As the deadline for submission approached at 5 p.m. July 3, Shannen Knight, the market’s promotions committee chairwoman, was still unsure what to expect.

“We were kind of worried because we had no way of knowing how many pies to expect,” Knight said. “There could have been two or there could have been 30. We ended up with 13, which was reasonable and not too much.

“I thought it went great.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Portland chef Adam Kekahuna and KGW reporter Drew Carney were deemed celebrity judges.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Local activist Alice Richmond tastes a pie.

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