Math and Sweet Treats at Pi-e Day at Liberty Science Center

Celeste Governanti of Jersey Avenue’s Made with Love bakery spent Sunday afternoon at Liberty Science Center with dozens of other local bakers, both professional and amateur. Governanti was celebrating Jersey City Pi-e Day at Liberty Science Center as one of a dozen judges and nine blue ribbon bakers – fear not, she didn’t judge her own category – but she did take home the professionals’ prize for her Classic Apple Pie.

The event was Gabby Creery’s and Lissa Welles’ annual, edible, Learning Community Charter School (LCCS) fundraiser, held in advance of National Pi Day, which is celebrated today, on March 14th (3.14) in honor of the mathematical constant.

Among the judges joining Governanti were JCI‘s Jennifer Weiss and myself, The Chefworks’ owner Marco Runanin, HCCC’s Culinary Arts Institute instructor Dianna Munz, and Garth Kobal, who launched Grace Van Vorst’s first pie bake-off six years ago, before he moved to Connecticut.

For Kobal, it was a reminder of the close-knit community he left behind in downtown Jersey City for his new home in rural Litchfield County. While he’s found plenty of similarities, bake-offs aren’t one of them, prompting his return visit to the Garden State.

“You can’t do such an event without having all the pies prepared and cooked in a professional kitchen. You can’t simply have entrants bake a pie and bring it to the event,” Kobal said, describing the quality of life in his new neighborhood. “So Jersey City ends up having more community freedom than out in the country!”

Among those who celebrated that freedom the most were the winners of the bake-off: Karin Williams for her apple pie, Lissa Welles and her Double Pecan, Yssa Bobrow’s Strawberry-Rhubarb, Joelle Peterson’s Spiced Pumpkin, Maia Giotia’s quiche, Kyra and Ziggy Panchenko’s kid-friendly Smore Galore, and Parkside Bistro’s Chocolate Banana Cream.

There were several other events celebrating Pi, such as Pi-kus (haikus about Pi) and arts and crafts.

Finally, after the last Pi haikus and near-infinite paper chains were hanged, after the children’s pie eating contest gave way to a performance from a “mathemagician,” all those blue ribbons were awarded and the remaining slices met their final price markdown–Britten Blakely, an administrator at LCCS, did some quick math to tally the day’s other most important number.

Thanks to contributions from more than a half dozen local sponsors including Art House Productions, School Plus Hudson and 101 Discoveries, and counting contest entry fees and advance ticket sales, the event raised more than last year’s Pi-e Day at LCCS raised in total – before the doors even opened.

“We made $1,500 before a slice of pie was sold,” Blakely told us, attributing the profits to Liberty Science Center donating the space as part of the museum’s Math Month, and giving 100 tickets to sell at whatever price LCCS set.

The group sold all but one ticket and nearly doubled last year’s fundraising total with $2800.

Photos by Adam Robb and Jennifer Weiss

Adam Robb

a frequent contributor to the Jersey Journal and NJ.com. He is a freelance writer living in Jersey City, whose work has appeared in publications including Philadelphia Weekly, Atlantic City Weekly, and Time Out New York. His own blog, The Life Vicarious, has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, and has been featured in The New York Times and on the New York Post's Page Six.