A Party With Katie Evans and John Reeves Is a Real Slice
The pie party started out innocently enough: some buttery baked goods, a few coworkers, a little friendly, festive competition to kick off the holidays. Katie Evans, then a designer for Kate Spade, came up with it as a story for the brand’s burgeoning blog. Her husband, John Reeves, would co-host. They figured they’d dress up, eat a slice or two, have their pictures taken and call it a night. But anyone who’s ever been to a pie party knows that it’s not so innocent. Oh no. There is drama, like whether or not the contest is rigged. There is strategy: campaigning and positioning and recipe testing. Sometimes, there are tears.
Nine years later and Evans, now a freelance art director, alongside Reeves, Senior Director of Operations at HelloFresh, have captained the pie party each holiday season since that first fateful fete. They’re practically professionals at this point. As such, they’ve learned a few things along the way, like how to improve one’s chances of winning at a pie party, or what to bring if you can’t (or don’t want) to bake. Read below for more of their party hosting tips. It’s best served best “a la mode,” as they say in the biz — or with beer, honestly.
Bonobos: What kinds of pies do people bring?
Evans:Our friends bring classic sweet ones like apple, pecan, key lime. We also get pizza pies, shepherd pies. Sometimes we get plays-on-words. One friend bakes a cake in a pan shaped like the mathematical pi symbol every year.
Reeves: Another friend did a scene from The Life of Pi, with the tiger and boat. People have brought nacho pie, Frito pie…
Evans: Our friend Willa made breakfast pie, which was more of a quiche, but she made a French toast crust with a sausage frittata and maple syrup on the side. That was really good.
Bonobos: You’ve already semi-answered this, but in the world of pie, how strict are you? I ask because one time I was watching the important culinary show Top Chef Junior and there was a pie challenge where one of the kids made a berry crumble. I was like, “Hold on, isn’t a crumble an entirely different food group?”
Reeves: If the description has a word that sounds like pie, or if it was made in a pie-shaped pan, it’s considered part of the pie party.
Evans: We’ve never denied a pie. We’ve had crumbles and tarts win before.
Bonobos: What’s the best thing a guest could bring over to a pie party that isn’t a pie?
Evans: Wine is always a good one. Booze is something that I’m always worried we’ll run out of.
Reeves: Savory snacks are big hits because most people bring sweet pies, and people don’t want to chug down on dessert alone. Savory pies are always big hits at our party too for this reason.
Bonobos: What’s your favorite kind of pie?
Reeves: I love apple pie. It’s so simple. Some people who’ve been coming for a while now try to go crazy fancy and it’s not about the taste. But apple pie is so simple, and it tastes so good.
Evans: I remember one of my favorites: a macaroni and cheese pie with bacon lattice crust. I also love apple cheddar and key lime.
Bonobos: Is it dramatic to award these pies with all your friends standing there, hoping to win?
Evans: We did have one friend cry when she won. It was so sweet. Everyone gets a prize that relates to their award (best presentation, most creative, best tasting, and hosts’ choice).
Reeves: My boss keeps getting second place, so he thinks it’s rigged.
Evans: I always have someone tally the votes with me just to make sure that I’m not cheating.
Bonobos: Since there’s no way every guest can try every pie, do you have any expert strategies for future pie contestants to improve their chances of winning?
Reeves: The position of where you put your pie on the table.
Evans: Oh, that’s important.
Reeves: When the line forms, it’s the first couple of pies that get hit the most. If your pie is toward the end, the plates are usually full, so even if your pie is good, it doesn’t get hit. I’ve tasted pie that barely has a slice out of it, and it could have been a contender, but because of bad positioning — usually a result of coming late, that’s the consequence.
Bonobos: What’s your take on the pumpkin spice latte, or other pie-like drinks?
Evans: Hard pass.
Reeves: Yeah, no. No thank you.
Bonobos: What do you think tastes best with pie? Although I guess it depends on the pie.
Evans: Last year, we had Frito pies, and that would be great with a nice crispy beer. But with a classic apple, give me a glass of red any day.
Bonobos: What are the three most important things to do in terms of prep before guests come over?
1. Get yourself ready first, because it’s the worst when people are walking in and you’re not dressed.
2. Get ice. We’re always running out to get ice last minute.
3. Have music going before guests arrive.
Reeves: There’s a YouTube video of Nick Offerman drinking whiskey next to a fire — I put that up on the TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18029&v=_StgHl92v5Q
Bonobos: What’s something to know about being a good host in general?
Reeves: You have to know that there’s going to be crumbs on the floor, things are going to fall, wine is going to gets spilled, and you just have to roll with it.
Evans: Make sure you get to have a good one-on-one chat with everyone there. When there are a lot of people it can sometimes get overwhelming, and it’s the worst feeling when all you did was say hi and bye to someone.
Bonobos: There’s only one piece of pie left at the pie party. What’s the etiquette?
Evans: Take it.
Reeves: Yeah, take it.
Evans: Or split it with the person behind you!
Amelia Diamond is a writer and creative consultant living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram here.