Amelia and Xavier Bettencourt are used to being in the kitchen so perhaps it’s no surprise that they took second place in the annual pumpkin pie contest to benefit the United Samaritans Foundation – except for the fact that they are nine and six years old, respectively.
“They did all the measuring and mixing,” said their mother, Rebecca Bettencourt. “They made a traditional pie; there was nothing fancy about the recipe.”
However, according to the contest’s facilitator local chiropractor David Dubyak, it is the traditional pies that usually win the contest. For the past 19 years Dubyak has collaborated with USF to donate pumpkin pies to the foundation’s annual Thanksgiving meal given to those in need through the USF Daily Bread mobile food truck.
While Bettencourt concedes she did have to help the little ones with the oven, she noted that the children “are comfortable in the kitchen” as the family often cooks together. But Amelia and Xavier didn’t bake the pies to showcase their culinary talents.
“They both have huge hearts,” said Bettencourt of the children’s desire to contribute to those in need this holiday season.
The Bettencourt kids weren’t the only ones looking to give back through the contest as first place winner Pat McGuire entered the contest for the same reason. After hearing about the contest for several years she finally decided to enter a pie using the recipe off the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can. But what was her first place secret?
“The key is to mix the ingredients gently by hand,” said McGuire. “The mixer just doesn’t let the pie set as well.”
McGuire’s pie also featured a detailed crust with a maple leaf and small pumpkin made of dough in the middle of the pie.
After retiring from the Turlock Unified School District, McGuire worked for a year in a local bakery, Angela’s Sweets, where she was able to hone her baking skills. While she was pleased to take first place, she will be donating the $100 prize back to USF “because every dollar helps.”
“A year ago I went on a truck and saw the impact that USF has on the community,” said McGuire.
“It is truly is an honor to be able to share in this way.”
While overall donations were down from 163 pies in 2013, the 110 pies donated this year translate into hundreds of slices of pie for those in need this Thanksgiving. The Foundation also augments the need with pie donations from local companies.
Fifteen individuals competed in the contest, each entering two pies, and the additional 80 were given on behalf of the Ceres High School Home Economics Department. This year’s judges were former Mayor of Hughson Roman Bawanan, CEO of United Way Francine DiCiano, Maria Henry, owner of The Billing Department, Mike Pratt of Pratt Architecture, and Michael Ortiz, executive chef of Toscana’s Ristorante.
Together the five judges cast their votes on the texture and taste of the pie crust and filling.