It may be a tradition in some families to roll the crust, peel, core and dice the apples, prepare the pumpkins, and chop the pecans, but on Wednesday pastry chef Ian Farrell gave pie lovers at Redwood Shores-based Oracle Corporation a reason to put away their rolling pins and aprons this year.
Farrell is the executive pastry chef for Bon Appetit, the legendary food services provider for Oracle. He offered Oracle employees samples of the four pie creations he's made available to the company for Thanksgiving this year: Sugar Pie Pumpkin Pie, Apple Cranberry Crostata, Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Pear Ginger Custard Pie.
Oracle employees, and those lucky enough to be acquainted with an Oracle employee, can order pies at the Cafe 300 bakery. Pie orders must be placed by 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, and will be ready for pick-up before Thanksgiving.
Along with Robbie Lewis, executive chef of the Oracle campus, and Tiffany Leines, Bon Appetit's controller, Farrell handed out samples of his famous pies and took orders from Oracle employees, most of whom had a tough time deciding on which one.
Tiffany mentioned that in addition to pies, homemade dinner rolls are also available for pre-order.
"I've been doing the holiday pie tasting for about five or six years," said the Irish-born Farrell. "But it really took off last year. I think it was through word of mouth that we sold 450 pies last year, and probably will sell that many again this year."
The pies are all baked by Farrell's staff of 10 in the pastry kitchen in Oracle's 300 building.
Farrell's love of baking started in the kitchen of his family's bed and breakfast in Ireland. "My mother still bakes twice a day," he said.
The chef pointed out that the fruit used in his baked-from-scratch pies is grown locally, and the eggs are from local farms. Each nine-inch pie is packaged in a festive biodegradable box.
Farrell's personal favorite is the apple cranberry crostata, but he said so far the pear ginger custard pie has been the most popular.
Oracle employee Sudhanshu Kumar was on his iPhone conferring with a family member over which pie to order for this year's feast.
"I decided on an apple cranberry and pumpkin pie," said Kumar who will spend Thanksgiving at his home in Fremont with extended family.
"These pies are made exceptionally well," Kumar added after completing his order form.
It was clear that the pie tasting was an added perk to the already famous cafe fare offered to Oracle employees.
Jane Tu and her friends sampled a bit of each pie before selecting pumpkin to take to her parents' home in San Jose. "I'll be truthful and tell them I got it at Oracle," quipped Tu.
Farrell also offers popular seasonal baking classes. His Thanksgiving pie class booked up quickly, and he expects his Christmas class to be a sell-out as well.
A similar tasting event will be held for employees prior to the Christmas holidays.