Last week in Versus, we ran our Voracious Tasting Chef Showdown Special Edition, pitting last year's champion, Seth Caswell, against his competition for this year's battle, Rachel Yang. And even though the competitors came off fairly evenly matched (with Caswell's personal experience in the Voracious Tasting Thunderdome balanced by Yang having actually stalked the boards in Kitchen Stadium for an Iron Chef America battle), the scores did not come out all that close.
When the question of who would win in a cook-off between Yang and Caswell was put to you, the people, well in advance of the actual Chef Showdown (which will be happening live at the Paramount Theatre on April 27, right in the middle of the massive Voracious Tasting party), the results were quite clear, with fully 60% of voters predicting that Yang will wipe the floor with Caswell and take that Chef Showdown trophy from his cold, dead hands.
OK, well not dead, but you know what I mean.
Today, we have a whole different kind of showdown. Hot on the heels of this week's rough-and-tumble review, we're going to be talking about pie. Lots and lots of pie. So without further ado, I bring you . . .The Contenders: High 5 Pie, right on the corner of 12th and Madison, where hand pies are the thing to get, and Pie, in Fremont, which leans more in the direction of the pot pie, the raised pie, and the mini-pie.
The Stats: Both places are hanging their business plans and their reputations on the end-of-year prediction that "Pie is the new cupcakes," and that pie, in all its varied forms, is going to be the next big thing. Both shops do both sweet and savory pies. Both are located in densely packed neighborhoods where (one would assume) the need for pie would be high. High 5 has the reach advantage in this battle--doing business not only out of their shop on Capitol Hill, but catering as well. And Pie has the stamina with a normal slate of business hours, and then a late-night pie window open on the weekends.
The Battle: For me, this one was over before it really began. As noble and complicated as pie-making can be, it really breaks down into two very simple elements: the filling and the crust. Blow one or the other, and your pie is going to suffer for it. But fuck up both, and it's going to suck like a black hole. And High 5 can't seem to get either right these days. The fillings are either dull, dry, or wickedly out of balance. And the crust tastes like chewing a mouthful of damp cardboard. In comparison, Pie is like a baker's Nirvana, but only in comparison. The little Fremont shop doesn't do either thing shockingly well, but does seem able to handle both crust and filling with workmanlike skill. It's not the best pie I've ever had, but compared to High 5, Pie's product is far superior.
The Final Score: Pie takes this one in a rout. For their cherry pie alone (which was the best one I had while eating for this week's review), Pie laps High 5, if only because the bakers there were able to make something that actually looked and tasted like a cherry pie is supposed to look and taste--a feat which escaped the crew at High 5.
But hey, that's just me. Maybe some of you out there REALLY love High 5 and want to stand up in defense of it. Well, here's your chance. Whether you agree or disagree, all you have to do now is click on through to our brand-spankin'-new poll page and vote for your favorite Seattle pie maker. It really is just as simple as that. And next week I'll be back with the results and another battle for the Versus arena.