Mr. Z offered use of his classroom -- 6 large stainless steel tables and seven -- seven!! -- ovens. YES! PERFECT! THANK YOU!
The first thing we did was go shopping for pie tins. There is a restaurant supply warehouse just 2 blocks from the school. And luckily they had pie tins. The only kind they had were "very deep dish" but I didn't mind. We had plenty of apples to fill them. My pie mentor Mary Spellman taught me to make pie in generous portions: "Don't be stingy," she always said if I put too little filling in a pie dish. Besides, America has a reputation of doing thing BIG. So big pies were what we would make.
|Meet Mr. Z. He is not just a cooking teacher, he's also a rugby coach.|
|This is what the classroom looked like before we made a mess.|
|Pastry gems are some mysterious cross between butter & shortening.|
Seemed ideal, and the price was right (FREE!), but the texture was hard.
As for the taste, it was okay, but I wouldn't recommend the stuff.
|Gorgeous apples from The Yummy Fruit Company.|
From left to right: Ballaret, Granny Smith, Lemonade.
Lemonade is a new variety, a cross between Gala & Braeburn.
Ballaret are tarter than Gr Smith & easier to peel. Perfect for pie!
Before the class, Mr. Z used some of the apples to give me a lesson in knife-handling skills. We carved swans. He had worked in some fancy pants restaurant and they made these as a garnish, not to eat. He said he worked 14-hour days at that job. No wonder his days were so long! It takes a lot of time to create these carvings. It was fun to learn, but I prefer using apples for pie.
|Swan in progress.|
|Not bad for my first (and last) attempt.|
|Luckily I did not slice my fingers|
off in the knife-handling exercise.
Especially since this was only
the beginning of my trip.
|Pie is always better with butter. I came to the right country as |
New Zealand makes really good butter.
We had about 18 students for the class. (I didn't actually count them, Grace did, but I think the number was more like 16 because she included me and Mr. Z in the headcount.) Participants ranged in age from 17 to 70. Mr. Z had sent out email invitations to the school administrators, his cooking students, his catering business helpers, and a few local Hawke's Bay friends.
|Neil, one of the first participants to arrive.|
Check out those pants! A patchwork extravaganza,
he told me they're 20 years old.
|This cutie pie is Sam. She showed up in braids and someone asked her if she was the Pie Lady.|
I wanted my pic taken with her since, based on our matching hairstyles,
we were obviously kindred spirits.
|And there is it, the teacher's corner. More like "Show & Tell."|
No matter where in the world I teach a pie class, it is pretty much always the same format. Introduction, overview of what we're going to do, demo, turn everyone loose, and then watch the flour fly.
|The Pitchfork Pie Stand lives on in every pie I make!|
|"Rolling dough is like horseback riding, you have to take control of the reins."|
Yep, that analogy works in pretty much every country.
|These are some of Mr. Z's students. They love baking.|
|Mr. Crazy Patchwork Pants and Miss Cutie Pie Braids. They were a great team!|
|This table of ladies includes a florist, a school nurse, and a librarian.|
They made the most beautifully decorated pies.
|My host, Grace Bower, was clearly having a great time. She is not only an|
excellent knitter of prayer shawls, she also is an excellent pie maker.
|This is Mona. She's a food judge. But this night she was on the other side of the table.|
|A crimping lesson.|
|The culinary students went to extra lengths to make their pies pretty.|
Not for extra credit, but because they enjoyed the artistic process.
|The first pie to come out of the oven belonged to Mona the food judge.|
Her pie could have won any pie contest.
I couldn't read the dials on Mr. Z's ovens as the numbers were worn off. They were in celsius so I couldn't understand them anyway. But thanks to my sprinting and squats and the effort of rotating pies around on the oven shelves, every single pie came out looking....well, YUMMY.
|See? No pies were harmed (or burned) in the making of this film.|
|After all these years and all these oven burns, pie still makes me happy.|
|Louise Watts presents the "Apple Award" to Mr. Z. The hand-blown glass artwork|
came from Utah and Grace determined that people who have contributed something good
should be bestowed with the award--or at least have their picture taken with the apple.
And to think is only the first class of the three-month, 10-country, round-the-world journey. Here's to many more pies and many more happy people.
Thank you, New Zealand -- Grace Bower, Louise Watts, Brett "Mr. Z" Zimmerman & the William Colonso College, Paul Paynter & the Yummy Fruit Company, the Ibis & Novotel Hotels in Rotorua, and many others -- for making the first leg of World Piece a fun, safe and successful one.
Next stop: Australia (June 14 to 24)
RETURN TO THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PIE WEBSITE