The annual pre-Thanksgiving "Pie-Off" at Wieden + Kennedy was as pleasantly acrimonious this year as unsweetened allspice, with e-mail intimations that Wieden’s New York staffers "should have a lock on cheesecakes" and could easily cheat by submitting one of several hundred store-baked pies. Europeans, meanwhile, were thought throughout the network to spend so much time baking in relative leisure that lesser bakers should get a handicap. (Not that it mattered in the end; there were no international entries.) Categories included berry/fruit, creme/meringue, chocolate, "straight-up apple", and pumpkin/nut—simple enough guidelines, but perhaps some testiness crept into the competition because apparently there’s no prohibition on trash-talking. "There are no rules," said one of the judges, who needed to remain anonymous. And the winner is: one Dan Kent who won the Grand Prize for his apple-pie entry. Kent, a member of Wieden’s IT group, said the top competition was, to his tastebuds, "an outstanding lemon meringue and a mixed-berry with great decoration." Kent divulged his baking secrets exclusively to AdFreak: "I use both butter and shortening in the crust for flexibility and so that it flakes well. On the inside, I use Granny Smith apples for the tartness, to avoid that Hostess Pie syrupy consistency, and fresh spices. For example, I ordered Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys Spices. My favorite trick is a couple of tablespoons of finely minced candied ginger, which adds a balance with the cinnamon."
—Posted by Gregory Solman