Earlier this week I had the honor of breaking the story about Chicago’s first 100% vegan bakery opening this summer – Pie, Pie My Darling will be taking over Kitchen 17′s space in Lakeview possibly by August 2017. I got the scoop because I happen to be friends with owner and head baker Heather Bodine-Lederman – our adventures together range from wild nights sexually harassing and Elvis impersonator at the tiki bar to more recently attending a Dita Von Teese show. So yeah, we’re basically sisters.
All kidding aside, I am absolutely Heather’s biggest fan. I’ve loved her pies and cakes since I first got my hands on them at the now-defunct #VeganVortex market, and once I got to know what a sweet, humble, secretly-snarky girl she is I loved her even more. I’m super stoked for her bakery opening and have already promised to fight anyone who leaves her a bad Yelp review.
So here it is, a little Q&A with the owner of Chicago’s first 100% vegan bakeshop, coming to Lakeview this summer!
What’s your earliest memory of baking?
My mom was a health food nut so I remember baking carob fudge and sugar free apple crisp and things like that. I think that’s where my obsession with nostalgic childhood sweets came from. I felt like I’d missed out (sorry mom!) and wanted to re-create those devilish desserts I’d always craved.
What is your first cake (or pie)-related memory?
Hostess cupcakes! I wasn’t allowed to eat them in our household so every time I went over to my friends house I’d raid the cabinets and eat all the cupcakes. I grew up on store-bought pies so I always thought pie was crappy until I started baking them from scratch. Then I got obsessed.
Did you always love baking before you were vegan?
Baking has always been very therapeutic for me. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety forever and it always seemed to calm me down. I think becoming vegan really pushed my love of baking to new levels, though. I craved lots of things and at the time 8 years ago there were very limited options, so I took matters into my own hands. Gotta have my sweets!
What made you decide to go vegan?
I was in an airport and grabbed a book called Slaughterhouse (ad link) by Gail Eisnitz to read on my trip. It was kind of a behind the scenes look at what goes on behind closed doors at slaughterhouses, not just the mistreatment of the animals but to the employees as well. When we landed I was in tears. It’s sounds cheesy but for real–that day I went vegan and never looked back.
A lot of people don’t pick up on the punk rock reference in your business name – can you explain where Pie, Pie My Darling came from?
I’m always so excited when someone notices! I was baking pies one day and listening to the Misfits’ song “Die, Die, My Darling” and it was just like a no brainer. Like how have I not thought of this before?
Speaking of The Misfits, I heard Doyle is a Pie, Pie fan. Can you talk about how that came about?
My lovely friend Melisser bumped into him backstage at the Chicago misfits reunion and gave me a shoutout! Him & his lady will be ordering pies as soon as I am figure out how the hell to ship a pie…
Have you baked for any other celebrities or people who made you fangirl out?
I’ve baked for Dan Smith a couple of times but honestly was more excited when he took one of my cookies home to his wife Skully. I crush soooooo hard on that girl and I pretty much died. I also died when Henry Rollins talked about my Black Flag pie on his podcast, but I haven’t fed him yet.
Do you have any help in the kitchen, or are you a one-woman show?
I’m a lone wolf. I desperately need to hire someone, but I’m such an insane introvert – it’s been hard. I just like to be alone. I enjoy other people in small doses, which is why I love Instagram because I can be affectionate and reach out to people without actual contact. But obviously if I want to own a bakery it needs to happen. Cute, smart baker girls, come at me!
What is your vision for your soon-to-open bakery? Do you have a vibe you’re going for?
I want it to be cute, but not barf-cute. Punky, but not tacky – and really cozy. I have no idea how I’m going to go about making that happen but that’s the plan.
For all the aspiring bakeshop owners out there – can you talk about how you got from Point A to Point B? Where did you make your first sales? Was there something in particular that really launched you?
I started at this cute little market in Logan Square called Vegan Vortex! [Editor’s note: Heather is being coy. I co-founded this market. See what I mean about how cute she is?] I had no idea what I was doing. I had no business plan, no goal or agenda. I just showed up and sold some little mini pies. The response was nuts! I sold out and received a whole bunch of emails and orders and I thought huh, this could really be something. I was approached by Don, the owner of Kitchen 17, and he asked if I’d ever want to do a popup in his restaurant. We started doing “Pie Sunday” popups every few months and things really blew up from there. I’m eternally grateful to him for that.
What is your best-selling or most-requested offering?
Funfetti Cake, hands down. I’m so glad because it proves to me that other people are just as nostalgic and into sprinkles as I am.
I fucking suck at making brownies no matter what I do. Is there a dessert that still eludes you?
Hahaha oh I feel you. I suck at fancy desserts. Like anything plated with some kind of drizzle shit on it. It’s way over my head. I’m into stuff your grandma would have baked you.
What are some of your favorite vegan eats in Chicago?
Vegan Deep Dish at Kitchen 17 of course! The Chicago Diner was probably the first vegan restaurant I ever went to and I get the reuben every time. Soooo good. Oh and the country-fried portabella at Handlebar. And the po boy at Ground Control. We have so many thiiiiinnnggs!!!
A couple of final notes:
- You can read more about the bakery opening on VegNews, DNA Info and Chicago Eater
- Check out Heather’s recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie on I Heart Keenwah
- I pointed out to Heather that the last person I interviewed before her was the Iron Sheik, and that’s fucking cool
- All photos in this post belong to Pie, Pie My Darling