Pies are the new black

04/21/2010 at 3:29 pm | Posted in About town | 4 Comments
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Who doesn’t love pie? I mean, think of all the yummy stuff you can tuck in between two pie crusts. Fruit, chocolate, custards, coconut, even meats and veggies. Hello, chicken pot pie.

My dream pie? An eggy, cheesy, bacon-y concoction with more bacon on top.

Give me a fork.

So it goes without saying that I’m super-excited about a new shop opening soon in downtown Raleigh: PieBird. Just the name makes me smile.

I caught up with owner and pie-baking maven Sheila Duncan to ask her a few questions about PieBird. Like, will you have bacon pie?

No really. Here’s our interview:

What inspired you to start PieBird?
Well, have you heard of wisdom born of pain? I suppose there was a little of that here. I was laid off about a year ago, and I knew it would be extremely difficult for me to get another job. Even though I have a master’s degree, I am in my mid-fifties (very hard to get a decent paying job at my age), and I kept thinking, making lists, going over and over in my head, “What in the world am I going to do NOW?!”

I kept coming back to food, then I kept thinking, what do people want in this economy?  Something good and inexpensive. What is convenient? Take-out food! What is a simple food that no one is really doing now? PIE! Then I put it together…take-out pie!

Holy cow, I’m sold. Tell me about your background. Do you have culinary training, or are you just a really good baker? Or both?
My mother worked when I was a child and she asked me, occasionally, to put dinner on the table. I really loved this task. So much better than cleaning a bathroom or dusting! I mean, I would get compliments for cooking!

I actually started collecting recipes when I was in 4th or 5th grade. At that time, meat loaf was my specialty! About the second time I had to do this, I decided to make a peach pie with a can of peaches I found in the cupboard. Yikes! It was a total disaster. My family didn’t say, but I knew it was horrible! The crust was too thick; it was sticky to work with. The whole pie-making thing I realized was a world I knew nothing about. I decided right there to change that and have sort of been a student of pie ever since then. I also owned a catering business in the early 80s.

What’s your all-time favorite pie?
I honestly don’t have a favorite pie. But I have to tell you I am a savory kinda girl, so any meat or veggie pie always wins out over the sweet pies for me. This summer we will be making a fresh tomato pie. I am really looking forward to that. The best part of our pies is our crust. It is flaky! And buttery, but not too buttery. The secret is that I make it by hand, and I am not talking about making it in one of those giant mixers where the ingredients get so mixed up it turns into play doh!

How long do we have to wait to eat PieBird pie?
We are hoping open the shop by June, but a lot depends on the city and county and when the inspections, etc., will get done.

What will the PieBird experience be like?
We will be open for lunch and serve many kinds of savory hand pies, some all veggie and some with meat. One of my favorites is one my brother introduced me to after one of his many business trips to London, a pie with chicken, cranberry and brie cheese. (Editor’s note: Oh. Mah. Gah.)

These pies will be small and inexpensive; you can stop in for lunch and get one pie, two pies, a salad, a bowl of soup, whatever you wish. Dinner will be a selection based on seasonal pies, chicken pot pies, or other meat and veggie based pies. Or you can take out a whole pie or order a pie to be delivered. So many pies, so little time!

We will also have a small selection of local wines and beers to enjoy with your dinner. My goal is to stay as local and fresh as possible. Occasionally we hope to have some local talents perform for us. There will be seating inside and out.

Our building is very cool, it used to be one of the original Krispy Kremes back in the 40s. Actually my mother and grandfather would visit this Krispy Kreme, purchase two dozen doughnuts, sit in their truck and eat one dozen and take the other dozen home like the first one never existed. I just love that story and that somehow I am connected to this wonderful old building.

All photos by the super-talented Kristine Dittmer. Dudes, I’m hungry now. Want more PieBird? Click here.



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  1. I am SO unbelievably stoked this place is opening up in my neighborhood. My neighbors and I are very excited to have a delicious spot to hang and walk to with our little ones. Thanks for all the great info sis (and pictures!!). Man, that brie one sounds divine!

  2. Um Yes please!

  3. Delivery to Vegas, please?

  4. I am DYING to get some pies!

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