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‘Pie Goddess' taking show on the road

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By Brenda Sexton-The Courier-Herald

When the Plateau's Pie Goddess Suzie Sidhu had her latest round of business cards printed she added one of her favorite sayings, “Because stressed spelled backwards is desserts.”

Around the Northwest, Sidhu is known for her desserts, especially her pies. She's been baking for decades. She was a feature at Buckley's Sweet Shoppe for years and now serves up her trade at Enumclaw's CafeĀ“ Panini where she whips out 10 to 15 pies - about 100 slices - a day.

The Buckley resident has been featured on KCTS Cooks and in the pages of Sunset Magazine. She passes on her skills to others through regular classes at Green River Community College.

Her pies are local dessert auction favorites. A Pie Goddess banana cream sold for $1,000 at the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation's December fundraiser.

But Sidhu's biggest challenge awaits.

She's packing up her spatulas and measuring cups and heading to Kissimmee, Fla., to compete in the 2008 American Pie Council's Crisco National Pie Championships April 18-20.

Each year the American Pie Council hosts the National Pie Championships where amateur, professional and commercial pie bakers compete in their categories for the best pies in the country.

Sidhu will compete in the professional division.

“Win or lose I don't care,” she said. “I'm going to have fun. I'm going to meet people who do what I do.”

The pie championships have been on Sidhu's radar for a couple of years. She discovered the competition watching the Food Network.

“The pie challenge piqued my interest,” she said. “I thought it would be fun.”

She checked it out, but found most of the contests were homemakers and she didn't feel comfortable competing with people who don't create pies for a living.

“The next year, I saw it again,” she said. “I thought I've got to do this. I always stayed away.”

It helped that by this time the Council had added a professional category.

Now, two weeks away, Sidhu is making the contest a “pie-ority.”

“I'm so excited about it and it's all coming together,” she said.

The daughter of a local couple, who happen to be Pie Goddess fans, lives in Florida. She stopped by on a visit to Washington and offered to secure a place for Sidhu to stay with a cooking facility. Contestants do have access to a kitchen area, but most of their entries are made somewhere else and brought to the competition.

“She's been my fairy godmother,” Sidhu said. “She's got me a condo and is setting me up.”

Sidhu's mother bought her airline ticket sas a birthday present. Sidhu is renting the condo and will have other expenses. She's cooked up a plan to help her raise money for those needs. She's collecting donations from patrons and community members in exchange for chances to win a pie.

The hardest part has been logistics - how to get everything she needs - special ingredients, mixers, utensils - from here to there.

“I don't want to be too far out of my comfort zone,” she said.

There are eight categories in the Professional Division and Sidhu plans to enter them all - apple, fruit and berry, Crisco classic chocolate, citrus, Crisco classic cherry, open cream and open and nut flavor categories. The Crisco categories require use of the product.

“I'm going to enter each category once or twice, maybe three times,” she said.

She's packing up her arsenal of Plateau favorites like the Butterscotch Lush that earned her the Pie Goddess moniker. She's bringing her son's favorite - Peanut Butter Finger. She's bringing the Tollhouse, the Cherry Almond Crunch and the Razzle Dazzle Raspberry.

Pies will be judged on appearance, taste, overall appeal and creativity. A grand prize of $5,000 is up for grabs. Each categories' winner will also receive a cash prize of $200. Eight honorable mentions will also be awarded.

Have no fear Plateau pie eaters, Sidhu would never abandon her greatest supporters. Her Pie Princess will be covering the store and there will be pies for auction at the Palate of the Plateau.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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