Forks up, Phoenix! Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row present the third annual Pie Social Saturday, November 3rd, from 2 to 6 p.m. on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. We've got an all-star line up of bakers making pies for you to taste, and from now til Pie Social, we'll introduce them to you, one by one.
Today: Traci Wilbur of Pie Snob makes pumpkin cheesecake.
She might run her pie business solo, but that hasn't stopped Traci Wilbur from becoming a tour de force in the local pie scene. Perhaps it's her impressive digs that put her over the top -- Wilbur creates and bakes in a woodshed turned chef's dream kitchen behind her home.
Wilbur is a red head with a big smile, casually dressed in shorts. She leads us through a gate and towards a building in her backyard. She opens the door, and instead of finding a tool shed behind the door, we are met by a stainless-steel industrial kitchen. Lilac walls and black-and-white checkered floors give the space a calming, yet homey feeling.
She tells us she will be making pumpkin cheesecake today. Three of them, to be exact.
Blocks of cream cheese, cut into one-inch squares, go into the gigantic stainless steel standing mixer (the mixing bowl can hold enough filling for 20 pies, Wilbur tells us), and then the machine gets turned on.
She adds a sugar and spice combination that smells like fall. As she is adding the sugar, a little girl's face peeks through the window. Realizing she's been spotted, she quickly ducks out of sight.
Wilbur, who has two young daughters, mentions that her oldest already wants to take over the business.
Eggs and pumpkin puree are added to the mixer, then she starts to pour them in the molds, which are lined with a graham cracker crust.
Once a slot machine sales representative, Wilbur quit that job when her children were born and started Pie Snob after a friend suggested she do so. "I told my 'mommy friends' and business took off," she says.
Wilbur graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in English. She learned everything she knows about pie baking from her mother, who helps her bake during the busy weeks before Thanksgiving. Her most popular pie: apple, a family recipe.
She enjoys cooking as well. "If you asked my family what I like to cook most, they would say anything with garlic, " she says.
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But really, Wilbur says, her favorite thing to make is "anything where you know people are going to love it."
Want to read about the other competitors? Corianne Sizemore Makes Raspberry Pop Tarts Tammie Coe Makes Eyeball Cupcakes Karen Olson Makes Chocolate Chip Cookies Brady Breese Makes Pumpkin Bread Joan O'Connor Makes Mediterranean Pasta Salad Monti Carlo Makes Banana Bread Muffins Mamma Toledo Makes Egg Sammies with Horseradish Cheese Slade Grove Makes Gluten-Free Amaretti Cookies Jeff Kraus Makes the "First Time Crepe" -- Nutella, Elderflower, Spiced Walnuts and More David Duarte Makes Peanut Butter Crunch Bars Winnona Herr Makes Butterscotch Bananas Foster Pudding