4

Lard of the land: John Hinman wins cherry pie fight

It started off so innocently: Elizabeth Thomas, pastry chef for

WaterCourse Foods

and

City O' City

, was visiting her sister, who works at Marczyk Fine Foods, and got a taste of the pie that John "Haji" Hinman had been making for the market. "She said it was lame," Hinman remembers, "and challenged me to a pie-off."

And so the great Cherry Pie Throwdown was on. Last Wednesday, several august judges -- including the owners of Sweet Action ice Cream, where the event was held; Dan Landes, owner of WaterCourse and City; and John Lendorff, former Rocky Mountain News critic and longtime pie fan -- gathered to test the cherry pies made by Thomas, who's renowned for her vegan baking, and Hinman, who's not.

So he brought a secret weapon to the contest: lard.

The cherry pie that Hinman had been making at Marczyk had an all-butter crust, but for the contest, he used lard. "I've been experimenting with lard lately, from Niman Ranch," he explains. "That's the kindest ranch there is, and I render it myself. I love the lard."

And the crowds loved his pie. "It was a crushing defeat," Hinman proclaims.

Well, perhaps not crushing. "Kate's was very good," says Barbara Macfarlane, co-owner of Marczyk and another judge, along with her eight-year-old son. But Hinman's "was absolutely the most perfect cherry pie."

The market generally has Hinman's cherry pies -- made with sour Michigan cherries, and still boasting a butter crust -- on hand for $18.99 each; he'll soon be adding blueberry and coconut cream options.

And he's making them all using the rolling pin that was his late grandmother's. "It's a lot of labor, making it all from scratch," he says. "A labor of love."

For more love, read Lehndorff's account on his Nibbles blog; see a slide show of the action here.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send: