If you ask Turlock resident Terry Foote what makes a really good pumpkin pie, she’ll tell you it’s the pecans. Her recipe took home the first-place prize at the Dubyak Family Chiropractic annual pumpkin pie contest Monday night, and the caramel nuts topping her champion dessert won the judges over in a heartbeat.
“It’s an old family recipe that I just played around with. Honestly, I don’t know if it was the recipe that won or just the pecans,” said Foote, a self-proclaimed baker who has entered the contest annually for over a decade.
In 2015 and 2016, Foote baked a pie tasty enough for second place, but this year was the first time her pumpkin pie has ever won.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I enjoy helping out. My church helps out feeding the homeless, but it’s nice to able to do something special myself that will help people.”
Contest facilitator Dave Dubyak began the pumpkin pie contest over two decades ago in order to give back to the community. In collaboration with United Samaritans Foundation, pies entered into the contest are donated to the organization’s annual Thanksgiving meal given to those in need through the USF Daily Bread mobile food truck.
“This contest means that there is someone who cares out there…both Dr. Dubyak and his wife care about those who are need of something traditional this Thanksgiving,” said USF Executive Director Bev Hatcher.
Foote’s delicious pie impressed the event’s five judges and earned her the first-place prize of $100. Turlock Chief of Police Nino Amirfar, USF Fund Development Director Courtney Fernandes, USF Assistant Director Scott Quille, Bev’s husband Steve Hatcher and City of Turlock employee Crystal Luedemann judged the submitted pies – nine in total – on the taste and texture of their crust and filling, as well as their appearance.
Both Fernandes and Luedemann were impressed by – you guessed it – the pecans on Foote’s pie.
“Oh my gosh, it was good,” said Luedemann.
“The crumble on the top added a nice texture so the pie wasn’t mushy,” added Fernandes. “And, the caramel pecans were delicious.”
To create the winning pie, Foote said that she just improved the recipe that helped her win second place in the past. Instead of using ground pecans on the top of the pie, as she had done in the past, Foote replaced the topping with a caramel and pecan streusel, she said.
Fellow contestant Theodore Williams took home the second place prize of $50 with a delicious, star-topped pie.
Despite the lower-than-usual turnout in entries for the contest, Dubyak believes the contest was a success. In total, 21 pies were donated to the contest and in turn, USF, thanks to store-bought contributions in addition to competition entries. During the contest, Chief Amirfar told Hatcher that he would donate even more pies after he goes to the store on Wednesday.
“It’s a lot of fun, and I always enjoy watching the judges because I don’t know these people from Adam but we have a blast,” said Dubyak. “It’s fun to meet new people and great to know you’re helping people that don’t have any food.”