Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Clearwater restaurant boasts best key lime pie — and can prove it

CLEARWATER — The best key lime pie in America can be found on Sunset Point Road, according to some folks who ought to know.

Zukie Tzekas, baker, cook and manager at the family-owned Sunset Grill, just east of Old Coachman Road, recently won the commercial division of the American Pie Council's national championship.

"I was ecstatic, I couldn't believe it," Tzekas said.

She had only been baking pies for a little over a year at the restaurant, which she runs with her mother, father and sister. On a typical day, Tzekas, 47, bakes pies and cakes, cooks specials and manages the restaurant as part of what she calls her "seven days a week love affair."

A self-described visual learner, Tzekas honed her pie skills watching YouTube videos. Once she mastered the technique, Tzekas experimented with new flavors and ingredients, a skill she has honed with more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

Tzekas entered the contest at the behest of her customers.

"I had my customers saying that these were the best pies they'd ever had," Tzekas said. "They've traveled everywhere and had homemade pies but they really loved my pies."

This praise led her to Google "pie contests" and to discover the APC national championships, held in Orlando.

Tzekas competed against companies like Publix and Village Inn, as well as professional pie companies.

The pies were laid out on a display table, where they were judged on appearance, consistency, flavor and other criteria.

A separate competition was held for each type of pie. Tzekas entered two pies, a coconut cream and a key lime. According to Tzekas, some of her competitors entered as many as 40 kinds.

For winning, Tzekas was awarded $200 and a plaque that is now displayed prominently near the entrance to the Sunset Grill.

Tzekas thinks her key lime pie stands out because of its crust, which is made from butter, graham crackers, vanilla wafer and an ingredient she wishes to remain a secret.

"It's really creamy," said Kayleigh White, 27, a regular at the restaurant. "A lot of key lime pies are super tart, but this one is just right."

Business at her restaurant has picked up since Tzekas' contest win, especially sales of key lime pie.

"I just feel good that finally in my life someone recognizes me," Tzekas said. "I mean, they all recognize me from here anyway, but to win the nationals is amazing."

Next year, Tzekas plans to enter more pies and expand to cake contests so she can show off her carrot cake, which she insists is amazing.

 
Comments
Top 5 at noon: Longtime Pinellas commissioner dies; Stroud and Jones on Game 6; and more

Top 5 at noon: Longtime Pinellas commissioner dies; Stroud and Jones on Game 6; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:LONGTIME PINELLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER JOHN MORRONI LOSES CANCER FIGHT AT 63Eighteen-year Pinellas County commissioner John Morroni died Sunday night while fighting his third battle against ca...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Restaurant review: Baytenders Raw Bar & Steamer is a low-key, friendly spot to gather

Restaurant review: Baytenders Raw Bar & Steamer is a low-key, friendly spot to gather

ST. PETERSBURGBrian Storman has had a long and colorful career in the Tampa Bay area. In the 1980s he had the insanely popular Storman’s Palace in Feather Sound, which in 2008 became the grownup playground "ultralounge" called the Venue (25,000 squar...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

The Lightning plays in Washington tonight with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup final. Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to talk about the game and why Andrei Vasilevskiy and the defense is playing so well.Plus, the...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Neighbors renew objections to altered New Port Richey homeless plan

Neighbors renew objections to altered New Port Richey homeless plan

NEW PORT RICHEY – The audience was color coded. Neighbors opposing a family homeless shelter and service center wore red T-shirts. Advocates who believed the proposal had become too diluted and benefitted the wrong people dressed in lavender or purpl...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning fans can gather to witness the team's possible clinching of a Stanley Cup final berth tonight in downtown Tampa.The watch party for Game 6 in Washington starts at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.It will include three screen...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
New Port Richey man charged with sexual battery of 10-year-old

New Port Richey man charged with sexual battery of 10-year-old

PORT RICHEY — A New Port Richey man accused of sexually battering a 10-year-old girl last year was arrested Friday, according the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Elias Barreiro, 23, was charged with sexual battery on a child under 12, deputies said. T...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Jonathan Oddi, the stripper and porn actor who stormed the Trump National Doral resort and got into a gunfight with police, won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.A Miami-Dade judge on Monday morning ordered the 42-year-old Oddi held without bond....
Updated: 1 hour ago