April 24, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Sour Cherries Top Winning Pie

June 12’s Pie Bake a’la Beverly Hills & Piesta First Place winner and Beverly Hills resident Melani Shaum went to great lengths to buy sour cherries for her award-winning “Lagier Ranch Sour Cherry Pie.”
This year, 16 contestants entered the competition with Melani Shaum, a resident of Beverly Hills for nearly 20 years, placing first in the contest. Her husband drove 675 round-trip miles to buy sour cherries from Lagier Ranch in Escalon, California to help push her pie to the top.
“I had to work, so my wonderful husband took a road-trip to the farm and brought the cherries to our kitchen so I could make this special pie,” said Shaum.
Sour cherries are special to Shaum. Growing up in Ohio, she and her family drove to Michigan all the time to pick sour cherries. When she moved to California she found a farm in Leona Valley that cultivated sour cherries and she carried on the cherry-picking tradition with her children. Eventually, the farmer of Leona Valley retired and Shaum could not find another farm in Southern California that cultivated sour cherries until just a few years ago when she discovered Lagier Ranch.
Shaum first entered the contest 10 years ago and has won several awards. Second Place Pie Bake & Piesta winner went to Ginger Garth, also from Beverly Hills, for her Summer Apple Pie. This was Ginger’s first pie contest entry.
Third place went to Stella Kalish, one of the youngest pie-bake contestants yet to enter the annual competition since its inception 20 years ago. Stella baked a pie every week for five weeks to prepare for the competition. Stella’s grandmother cultivated Stella’s love of baking and they re-create family recipes all the time when they bake together. Stella’s mom Dara said, “Stella is invigorated and inspired by the kids cooking competitions she watches on the Cooking Channel. She bakes twice a week and has attended baking camps and classes. She has made from scratch, French macaroons, cakes, cookies and pies, sometimes following the recipe, and at times creating her own.”
The Most Pieutiful award was captured by Bouquet Veprin for her French Apple Tart. The apples were meticulously placed, one by one, to create a beautiful flower. “I was never a pie baker, but I bought a cookbook and saw the French Apple Tart recipe and made it,” said Veprin.
The annual Pie Bake & Piesta is held every June at the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market and attracts pie-bakers from all over to participate in the contest.

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