Mack's Apples hosts pie bakeoff contestBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent February 18. 2018 9:21PM
LONDONDERRY — It was a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Bakers from across the region flocked to Mack’s Apples farmstead in Londonderry for the 25th apple pie contest, lining up roughly 50 tasty desserts before a crowd of 100 people on Saturday, some chefs and others just looking for a free sample.
The objective for Andy Mack, the eighth generation of apple orchard farmers in Londonderry, is to bring the community together for an old-fashioned, fun-filled afternoon.
There’s even a clock on a wall laden with old family photos that runs counterclockwise, a message designed to slow the hands of time and remember back to a simpler time.
“We get to be a small town again every time we do this,” Mack said. “That’s what I love about it, I can’t get enough of that kind of stuff.”
The Mack family farmstead turned into the quintessential slice of Americana, complete with golden ribbons for contestants and locally-made pie plates for the champions. Some veteran bakers waited right until the 2 p.m. deadline to slip their pies on the table so it was still warm for the judges.
“A lot of people do it for fun, some — it’s a serious sport,” Mack said.
Debbie Curtin, of Londonderry, has entered just about every pie contest since the beginning. This year, she had some extra dough after completing her pie and crafted a small New England Patriots logo to grace the top of her work.
“I think it speaks a lot to everybody,” Curtin said. “You never look at the pressure of making sure that when you’re making it that there’s no flaw. But that’s me, I’m just a cooker.”
Like many of the competitors, her apples come from Mack’s orchards. Many of the spectators helped themselves to free cider and doughnuts, others grabbed their own bag of apples to bring home.
About a dozen judges were split into two groups to examine and taste half the pies. There are two categories — the traditional, two-crust apple pie and nontraditional, which allows bakers to get creative with their ingredients, as long as there are apples.
Casie Ulliani, of Derry, took home third place in the nontraditional category with her pie that included bacon strips. This was her first year in the competition.
“On Pinterest I was just looking up different pie recipes, and I saw somebody had done bacon and I’m like ‘Bacon goes good with everything,’ so why not,” Ulliani said. “I made three test ones just to make sure it was OK.”
Marilyn Eddy and Doreen Whitley took home first- and second-place respectively in the nontraditional category, while Adele Goyette of Hudson, Debbie Pierce of Derry and Paige Roark of Hudson finished in the top three positions for the traditional pies.
Mack, despite playing a heavy hand in organizing and participating behind-the-scenes, has never served as a judge in any of the 25 bakeoffs.
“I host it and the crew does a wonderful job, so that leaves me with one thing to do, and that’s to talk,” he said with a smile. “If I’m real, real lucky, I get maybe a bite of the winning pie at the end. That’s my greatest hope.”