Forks up, Phoenix! Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row present the fifth annual Pie Social from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 15, at the "What Should Go Here" Pop Up Park at Second and Roosevelt streets. We've got an all-star lineup of bakers making pies for you to taste, and from now till Pie Social, we'll introduce them to you, one by one through a quick Pie.Q. quiz to test their baking prowess.
Today: LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
About a year ago when LaDawn Driscoll became the head pastry chef of Liberty Market, her life came full circle. Her parents lived on Page Avenue -- close to where the old grocery store was located.
"My mom used to walk me in my stroller to go shopping when this was an actual market," Driscoll says. "Little baby LaDawn was in here. It's just crazy."
Her mother taught her the home cooking basics, which led to a love and career of baking. Now she bakes her mother's banana cream pie for customers along with an array of other desserts. She applies her creativity to every bite.
Driscoll said she's excited to bake for Pie Social and has her pie picked out, but as a past participant she's even more excited to get her own mouthful.
"It's a gorgeous day downtown and people eat pie," Driscoll says. "I only got two pieces last year. This year I'm bringing more help so I can eat pie and they can stand behind the table."
See also: 9 Tips for Making the Best Pie Ever
It's 15 minutes until Pie Social and you drop a pie. What do you do? I pick it up really quickly before any dogs because there are dogs there all roaming around and throw it in the garbage. Smile. Pretend like I meant to do that. "That was totally the floor pie. A sacrifice to the pie gods." You definitely don't brush it off and serve it.
What's the single most important tool in pie making? Probably a good oven. You definitely need an oven. Everything else you can pretty much figure out how to do with your hands and maybe a baseball bat, but you need a good oven...and a lot of patience.
What's the most important ingredient in a pie crust? It's all about the fat, so if you want a really flaky pie crust then I believe in a mix of shortening and butter. They both need to be very cold. I think sometimes people don't realize that but if you're going to get a good, proper flaky crust then you're going to need very cold fat.
What's the secret to the perfect fruit filling consistency? You have to use the right thickener for the fruit that you're using, so if you've got acidic fruit, it's going to get juicier. You need to let it sit with sugar and kind of masticate a little bit to draw all the juices out. You have to have the right ratio of thickener to juice because you don't want it to be runny but you also want it to be nice and juicy.
Hand pie, pie in a jar, or no mini pies EVER? Not no mini pies ever because tiny pastries are adorable and awesome! I'm a big fan of tiny pastries. I like hand pies. I really like croustades, so free-form hand pies are cool. It's like pie but you can carry it around. Portable and cute.
Pie in a jar just seems like you don't really know how to make a pie so you put it in a jar, that's lazy. Pie in a jar is a cobbler. That's what it is.
What's on your pie-making playlist? Last year it was Band Of Horses. I've had my Beck Pandora station on pretty consistently the last month. You've got to have something that's not too loud because you have to be able to hear your timers but you definitely need to shake your butt a little bit while you're making the pies. It's important for a good, flaky crust -- butt shaking.
What will be the next big pie trend? Oh my gosh. It's probably going to be something ridiculous like nitrogen frozen dehydrated compressed pie because people like to be crazy. No, it'll probably be like pie in a tube and it's just the flavors of pie and you squeeze it in your mouth and then it disappears. Sometimes I don't get all the science that's going on with food these days.
You have to make 100 pies in 5 hours. Who are you gonna call for help? Tracy Dempsey. She's seriously, as far as local pastry chefs go, from the time I was little baby pastry chef just out of school I thought she was the best and she still is the best. If anyone could make 100 pies happen in 5 hours, it's going to be her. She is the master.
How do you spend your down time while your pies are in the oven? (Laughs) Doing like five other things at the same time because I'm never only just making one thing. While the pies are in the oven, I start on the macaroons and the bread pudding and everything else. There is no down time.
In one word, what's your strategy for competing as a celebrity baker this year? YOLO
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.