Pie it Forward bake sale enlists local chefs to sell pies for charity

Simple and sumptuous: Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. (Cox Newspapers photo)

Thanksgiving kitchen warriors, you’ve got competition this year. A local army of chefs will be baking classic pies for what promises to be the local bake sale to end all local bake sales.

The effort is titled “Pie It Forward,” and it’s a community-wide fundraising drive to benefit the Meals on Wheels food delivery program for homebound seniors in need.

Here’s the idea:

The six-week campaign, which kicked off Oct. 1, allows locals to order $25 Thanksgiving pies from the Meals on Wheels website for pickup on Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The pie varieties are classic – pumpkin, pecan, and apple.

From there, participating chefs and eateries will bake and donate the pies to fill those online orders. Those participants include bakers at the Four Seasons (baking 100 pies), Testa’s, Table 26 (100 pies), Eau Palm Beach (100 pies), Duffy’s, LongBoards, Howley’s (150 pies), Hullabaloo, Maison Carlos, The Mar-a-Lago Club, Whole Foods Market, The Beach Club and other spots.

“We love what Meals on Wheels does for our elderly community. It’s a charity that we have been giving to on a personal level for many years,” says Lanie Farias, who with her husband, Carlos Farias, owns Maison Carlos in West Palm Beach.

At the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort, executive pastry chef Bashar Shamali will create spiced pumpkin pies with candied pine nuts, rosettes of whipped cream and edible flowers.

“Thanksgiving is not only about being thankful, but it’s also about giving. We are thrilled to be able to give back to the community that we are so thankful to be a part of,” says the chef.

At Duffy’s Sports Grill, executive chef Eric Parker is working on a quintessential apple pie recipe for the cause, says the chain’s president, Jason Emmett.

“It’s great to participate in an event that will make such a difference for the seniors in Palm Beach County,” says Emmett.

At tony Table 26 in West Palm Beach, co-owners Eddie Schmidt and Ozzie Medeiros are donating more than pies for the campaign. “Table 26 has formed a pie-selling team to help raise even more support,” says Schmidt.

Judy Testa of Testa’s Palm Beach joined the pie-baking effort to support a childhood friend – Charlie Ring, founder of Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches. “It’s our honor to support their good work,” Testa says.

Even student chefs are contributing confections to the effort. At Lincoln Culinary Institute, culinary students have embraced the cause, says David Pantone, the school’s dean of culinary education.

“It just seemed like a match made in pastry heaven,” says Pantone. The school’s pie-baking team is dubbed The Pie Masters. “That’s just perfect for us since we actually are pie masters, and master bakers, and pastry chefs, and executive chefs.”

But which of the participating bakers will make your particular pie will remain a mystery until you pick up your order, organizers say.

For those who simply want to contribute to cause without packing on the calories, there are virtual pies, also $25. Each pie, virtual or real, raises enough funds to feed a homebound senior for a week, according to Meals on Wheels.

The aim: to sell 2,000 pies. Orders will be taken until Nov. 14. The pie pickup center will be set up at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Those who order 100 pies or more can have their pies delivered.

Palm Beach County has proclaimed the pie pickup date, Nov.24, as Pie It Forward Day.

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