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All We Can Eat
Posted at 03:10 PM ET, 07/04/2012

The State Dept., apple pie/UPDATE

This just in/details to come.

First place: Belgium

Second place: United Kingdom

Third place: Hungary

Does this look like a winner? One of the global entries in today’s inaugural apple pie contest at the State Department. (Look closely; the apples are in the shape of an eagle.) (U.S. State Department)
Apple pie contests are pretty gosh-darned all-American, which is one reason why the State Department decided to make it a feature at its Fourth of July celebration this evening. Post Food critic Tom Sietsema’s one of the three judges, and we hear that Libya is among the 15 countries who are competing for top honors. They’ve had about a month to work on their dishes, some of which are being made by embassy chefs/representatives and even ambassadors’ wives.

(For the record, “Libyan apple pie” gets zero Google hits.)

Other nations who accepted the invitation to compete: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cypress, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

The only rules for country contestants: Be creative. Use apples.

The winner will receive a pie made by State Department executive chef Christopher James — call it pastry diplomacy — and the second-place winner will receive a gift certificate from another judge, Alli Blakely, co-owner of Pie Sisters in Georgetown. Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of State for management, is the third judge.

About 400 people are expected to attend the exclusive event, including ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps and global chiefs of protocol.

Kristin Burkhalter is the State Department’s lead ceremonial protocol officer for the Fourth of July this year. She’s handled the duties overseas for the past six years, but this is a “different scale, to be sure.”

“Some entries don’t necessarily look like a pie,” she told All We Can Eat this afternoon, referencing bar-like desserts and a riff on baklava. ”We’ve asked them for their take.”

“I’m very excited to sample after the judges,” says Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States. “What better way to celebrate! This is a new tradition for us. Today’s event is part of the global chief of protocol summit, the first ever . . . the first time this conference has been hosted.” More than 100 representatives from 77 countries are on hand for the Global Chiefs of Protocol Conference.

Nye’s Cream Sandwiches are on the menu at today’s State Department Fouth of July celebration. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)
As it happens, pie won’t be the only treat at the State Department event. Local Moorenko’s ice cream (a Food section favorite) was donated, and organizers put in an order for 250 Nye’s Cream Sandwiches, which were hand-delivered by the company’s founders, Chris and Kelly Nye of Wilmington, N.C.

Burkhalter says the ice cream and sandwiches will be handed out as guests are invited to view the fireworks from a balcony with patriotic music piped in (weather cooperating) from the Mall.

Chris is a CIA-chef who’s worked in Austin and at Cape Fear Country Club. A few years back, he and Kelly had decided to open their own place and began developing menu items. Kelly knew she wanted ice cream sandwiches, so Chris made samples and tried them out at a school event, where both students and teachers were impressed. The ice cream sandwich business was born, with Chris graduating to a commercial kitchen space, making 4,000 each week in flavors that taste homemade: apple pie, strawberry shortcake, peppermint chocolate, lemon cardamom and more.

Just shy of two years later, the Nyes committed to the Fancy Food Show held last month in Washington, where an event planner for the State Department stopped by, sampled and mentioned today’s Fourth of July dinner.

“We thought, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ “ Kelly told All We Can Eat. “And then they got in touch with us and not only placed the order, they said, ‘By the way, would you like to come?’ It didn’t take us long to decide! ”

The Nyes and their sons, ages 8 and 10, loaded up the family car and headed toward Washington on Monday, arriving in time to make the dropoff. “I’m thinking we’ll have a very nice seat for the fireworks,” Kelly says.

Nye’s Cream Sandwiches are not yet available in the Washington area, but Kelly says a new distributor they signed on with does service D.C. stores. The sandwiches are $4 each; available in Wilmington, Bald Head Island and Raleigh.

By  |  03:10 PM ET, 07/04/2012

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