**UPDATE: East Durham Pie Co. surpassed their Kickstarter goal and will open their shop in 2018!**
Who doesn’t like pie? Even if you don’t like dessert (which is just crazy), there’s savory pies, or fruit pies, or tomato pies in addition to sugary slices like chocolate chess pie, key lime and lemon meringue.
East Durham Pie Co. owner, Ali Rudel, who supplies local cafes, breweries and farm stands with her homemade pies, takes things to the next level by incorporating seasonal ingredients and creating flavors like blueberry rosemary, strawberry honeysuckle, honey lemon chess and rhubarb apple.
When Ali launched the pie business she had a shop in mind as the end goal, but because she didn’t have the funds to do it that way from the very beginning, she started with almost zero investment, baking out of her home kitchen. “It’s been an awesome way to test the market and adjust my plans accordingly. I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I’ll scale my business and test recipes and figure out what the menu will look like on day one,” she shares. It also means that when doors open, she’ll already have customers who know her and those perfect pies!
Ali launched a Kickstarter campaign and is about half-way through, but she still needs our help to reach her $20k goal! Read more about her plans for the shop and give what you can to help make her dream a reality…mainly, so we can all eat more pie.
BBC: What do you envision for the shop?
Ali: The shop will be a bakery with a cafe seating area, and the idea is to have an open kitchen that people will be able to see when they walk in the door. I hope for it to be a welcoming space where neighbors will be able to meet up for coffee and pie, be able to sit and work, and just generally relax. I’m hoping to host events, and looking forward to getting more input from my neighbors about what they’d like to see in the space – some of the ideas that have been suggested so far are live music, book clubs, poetry readings, and a children’s story time.
It will be located in the Old East Durham commercial district, near the intersection of Driver St. and Angier Ave.
In terms of the menu, folks can get pie by the slice (which will be a rotating seasonal menu, including the pies we’ve been making for the last year as well as some new additions that we aren’t able to make in our current space), locally roasted coffee and tea, other baked goods (like scones, muffins, cakes, and cookies), savory pies using seasonal combinations of local veggies, meat and cheese. It will also be a place where people can pick up special orders at their own convenience (right now I only do delivery for orders because I operate out of my home), and I’ll be adding a few things to that menu, including gluten-free options and breakfast/lunch catering boxes. It will also give me the opportunity to increase production and add more options to my wholesale menu.
BBC: Is there a particular time of year you’re aiming to open?
Ali: The goal is to open by the end of the year, but I’m also trying to be realistic about the multitude of things that can delay that (from getting financing in place, negotiating a lease, construction, inspections, etc.) Really, the aim is to open as soon as possible! I promised my four-year-old she could get a pet when we move the business out of our house (we’re not allowed to have indoor pets with a certified home kitchen), so she’s holding me accountable.
BBC: What are your Top 3 favorite pie flavors of all time? (I realize this is a hard choice)
Ali: I seriously get asked what my favorite pie is every. single. day. I’m so glad you said top three! One of the things I really love about food, but especially pie, is that it’s a very universal food. When you ask people what their favorite pie is, there’s a lot of memory and cultural experience built into that question. I don’t think I can rank these, but here goes:
- I went to William & Mary and one of my favorite places to go in Williamsburg was a tiny little diner that was a bit of a drive from town called Five Forks. They had amazing food, including a cornbread with black pepper that they serve with most of their breakfast plates, but one of my favorite things I ever had was a vanilla raspberry cream pie. It had all these layers, and raspberries are my favorite fruit, so I’m glad I had room after breakfast to indulge in it. I still think about that pie.
- About sixteen years ago, I took a trip to the Philippines (the only time I’ve ever been to Asia) and one of the best parts of the trip was stopping by a roadside stand for buko pie, which is a double crust pie served hot and filled with young coconut.
- My first real introduction to baking commercially was working at Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. Emily and Melissa know pie, and have perfected some really incredible recipes, so this one is actually two pies because I can’t choose between them: One is their buttermilk chess. It’s so simple and perfect, creamy and delicate with vanilla beans and a buttermilk tang. The other is their salty honey pie. This was something they came up with accidentally, but it’s basically a honey custard that is sooooo sweet you have to add a sprinkle of maldon salt on the top to balance it out. I could probably live off that pie.