Starting the Thanksgiving festivities early, Carroll’s Kitchen hosted a pumpkin pie-eating contest outside Bistro 25 East in Blue Point on Sunday, Oct. 11. A chilly, overcast day, contestants were dressed in sweaters and hoodies, albeit most removed them when pie-eating time came.
Originally, 20 people had signed up for the challenge at a $50 buy-in. The proceeds of the event will go towards Carroll’s Kitchen’s funds for purchasing turkeys to donate to veterans and the elderly in the community. Baldor Foods’ Koch Farms will be the main supplier of the charitable turkeys.
Since forming during the pandemic, Carroll’s Kitchen has been steadfast in their commitment to feed Long Islanders in need. On Oct. 25, Carroll’s Kitchen plans to hand out 1,000 bagged lunches (featuring sandwiches) at a trunk-or-treat event, hosted by Debbie Loesch of Angels on Long Island.
A 15-foot trailer parked on the south side of Bistro 25 East currently holds over five tons of dry goods marked for meals by Carroll’s Kitchen. The owner of both, Ryan Carroll, a Sayville High School graduate, wants “to provide well-balanced, nutritional meals to help the elderly, veterans, and anyone in need.”
The pies for the day’s event were baked by Alex Murray, of More by Murray confectionary treats. Using the same recipe as her Thanksgiving orders, Murray relied on staple autumn favorite Libby’s pureed pumpkin, adding cinnamon, ginger, clove, eggs, egg yolks, and evaporated milk for the centerpiece of fall baking.
Murray also has a following at the popular farm on Lakeland Avenue, where she sells apple crumb cake, apple, pecan, and peach pies, apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin spice bread, and her own special concoction for the season, pumpkin spice latte ice cream.
Chosen for the pumpkin pie-eating contest as she is a longtime collaborator with Carroll, Murray serves on the board of Carroll’s Kitchen. “We started together with me making 1,300 snickerdoodle cookies for first responder meals,” said Murray.
The contest, with a $500 prize for the winner, had some staunch competitors.
Chris Brabant, who had previously helped promote music at Bistro 25 East and in order for Carroll’s Kitchen to feed the homeless, said of his strategy for the day, “I’m telling myself, ‘Don’t look at the food. Just keep eating.’”
A trio of contestants optimistically snacked on some ribs provided by Carroll’s Kitchen in anticipation of the contest. P.S.: They did not do as well as other contestants.
When the contest began, it was a bloodbath of pumpkin pie, as contestants were not provided utensils and only had their hands to use.
The soft texture of the pumpkin made it easier to swallow, but most contestants needed a water break at some point.
The technique varied, as some contestants chose to facilitate the crust as a handle and eat their pie in break-off pieces, while other dove fist-first and crammed as much pie as possible in to their hands.
There was some confusion about when a contestant was technically “done” with their pie, as those using the hand-shovel technique smeared most of the contents unto their hands. Carroll demanded that “fingers be licked clean” in order to claim victory.
The winner was Wayne Algenio, who finished in roughly three minutes. “I had no real strategy,” said Algenio, “but the pie was super tasty, so that made it easier. There was no chewing, just swallowing.”
Third-place winner Kevin Denley lamented some pre-pie strategy that he believes kept him from first place. “I had an omelette at 9 a.m. today; if it wasn’t for that I would’ve won.”
With the picnic tables covered in pumpkin-pie filing and water, the contest concluded with laughs and slightly messy high-fives.