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Chili Cheese Dog Pie created by Eric Freidline of Petra and the Beast. Photo credit: Manny Rodriguez

25 North Texas chefs are pushing their culinary talent, skills, and creativity for FestEvents Foundation’s first online pie auction and raffle, Piehole Project. These are not the kind of pies your grandma used to bake! They go above and beyond the traditional treat, like Spaghetti and Meatball Pie, Avocado Pie, and Strawberry and Burnt Ends pie. Proceeds will support “Chefs of Tomorrow” scholarship fund. Piehole Project will be held Oct. 12-25 at

DFW culinary stars are rising to the pie-making challenge, such as Dean Fearing (Fearing’s), Sean Jett (Humble: Simply Good Pies), Kent Rathbun (Rathbun’s Curbside BBQ), Misti Norris (Petra and the Beast), Anastacia Quiñones (José), and many more. Each chef will contribute one of their spectacular pies to the online auction with opening bid starting at $75.

In addition, raffle tickets can be purchased for $10 for a chance to win a surprise pie by one of four culinary standouts: Emporium Pies, Sarah Green (Pirate Cookies), Jill McCord (Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Education at Collin College) and Emily Mantooth (FestEvents Foundation Board Member and two-time blue ribbon pie contest winner at the State Fair of Texas).

Proceeds from Piehole Project will support FestEvents Foundation’s “Chefs of Tomorrow” scholarship program.  The program awards $1,000 scholarships to students at local culinary schools to help further their education and contribute to the dynamic culinary scene in North Texas. In its two years, “Chefs of Tomorrow” has provided $20,000 in scholarships.

With Piehole Project, FestEvents Foundation continues to elevate the standard of excellence in hospitality events. FestEvents Foundation Co-Founders Alison Matis and Cheryl Weis are well-known in the local food community through their company, FestEvents Group, which has handled the logistics and production of many of the largest food festivals in Dallas including Taste of Dallas, Park & Palate, Dallas Arboretum Food & Wine Festival, and Dallas Chocolate Festival, among others. They use FestEvents Foundation, a registered 501c3, as a platform to raise funds to support workforce development in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

In March 2020, marketing expert Emily Mantooth joined the Foundation to help launch the “Staff Meal” and “Staff Meal Special” programs that provided over 26,000 meals to struggling hospitality workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of their efforts, the team was recognized as a “Big D Hero” by D Magazine. The Foundation also holds a monthly virtual trivia night, hosted by a local chef, called “Chef-ardy!” that benefits their “ServiceReady!” program to provide no-cost TABC and ServSafe certifications to industry workers looking to re-enter the workforce.  

Says Matis, “The pandemic has been devastating for the hospitality and events industries but has pushed us to explore new opportunities and ways of working. We are thankful that we can use our talents and expertise to help the industry thrive, especially through such fun and delicious virtual events as Piehole Project!”

BTS: Photographer Manny Rodriguez was asked to capture the chefs and their pies on camera. What escalated was a moment of brilliance: a first laugh since the pandemic, the release of stress and worry, genuine joy and happiness. These photos represent the carefree, adventurous, heartfelt spirit of Piehole Project. To view these images, click here. Photo credit: Manny Rodriguez

Piehole Project, presented by FestEvents Foundation, is a virtual auction and raffle featuring over-the-top pies from 25 celebrated chefs in North Texas. Piehole Project will be held October 12-25 online at Opening pie bids start at $75 and raffle tickets can also be purchased online for $10. Winners will get notified via text. Pies will be available for winners to pick-up Oct. 28-30 (location TBA). Delivery options will also be available for an additional fee. Proceeds support FestEvents Foundation’s scholarship program, Chefs of Tomorrow, which provides $1,000 scholarships to local culinary students. Follow @pieholeproject on Facebook and Instagram for fun chef photos and news!