We met East Durham Pie Co.'s founder, Ali Rudel at Francesca's on a Wednesday night, where we chatted over frothy drinks and a couple of slices of delicious bourbon apple pie she was thoughtful enough to share. The pie was all it took -- I immediately confessed that Ryan-Ashley and I had been calling her the 'Pie Lady'.
She chuckled, "I get that a lot."
When Ali and her husband got pregnant six years ago, they decided it was time for a change, and after some research, Durham just seemed to make sense.
Brooklyn had been good while it lasted, though. It was there, after all, where Ali had worked her way up from Barista to Baker in the mega successful pie shop that taught her so many of the skills and instilled
so many of the values that inform the baking work she's doing today.
The values and methods she learned through her experience there provided an important framework for what would become East Durham Pie Co. So, why Durham?
In addition to wanting a more family-friendly way of life, Ali and her husband were interested in Durham because of its connection to agriculture. They had both worked in the food service industry with the focus on 'farm to table' concepts, and they were excited to be closer to and connected with the people who grew food.
While chatting, it became clear that Ali has a passion for creating sustainable, goodies using seasonal ingredients. When we asked her why, her no-brainer response was:
"IT JUST TASTES BETTER."
In addition to seasonal and local ingredients, she also looks for locally made, specialty products to use as fun additives in her pies. (Think Slingshot Coffee concentrate + chocolate pie. Yummo). Some of her other local sources include Funny Girl Farms, Homeland Creamery, and Latta Farm eggs.
Ali makes great pies, but that's not all -- she really is committed to becoming a part of the agricultural and business communities here. Before starting EDPC last October, she managed the Chapel Hill Farmer's Market, served on the board of Benevolence Farm, and was on the advisory committee at Farmer Foodshare. It was at these places that Ali made the connections which are now serving very important to this new venture.
Without a regular storefront (yet!), you can find Ali's pies at popup shops around town at places like Ponysaurus and The Patchwork Market, and her 'handpies' make regular appearances at Respite Cafe, Cocoa Cinnamon, Funny Girl Farm's Farmstand, The Durham Co-Op Market, and The Bagel Bar.
According to Ali, EDPC has had a welcoming reception from the Durham community, and it's not hard to see why.
We are really looking forward to seeing how the business grows and we're especially looking forward to the day when we can sit out on Ali's patio and eat pie with friends!
With Sugar and Spice,