Start a pop-up during the pandemic? Easy as (Edith’s) pie! – J.

Mike Raskin never thought he would be a chef, and therefore starting a pie business was not in his future plans either. But ask the Berkeley native what his culinary memories are, and the pie appreciation serves as a common thread. He also offers clues as to how he started. Edith’s pie, a popular pop-up that he intends to turn into a physical store once everything is in place.

Named after Raskin’s mother, Edie Hoffman of Berkeley, Edith’s Pie recently celebrated her birthday by launching at the start of the pandemic. “My mom makes some really amazing pies,” he noted. (Hoffman was director of human resources and administration at the SF-based Federation of the Jewish Community from 2000 to 2003.)

Recently, fans were able to purchase seasonal pies at the Alice Collective in downtown Oakland on Saturday mornings and at Grand Coffee in the Mission district of San Francisco on Friday afternoons. Soon they will also be available at Albany’s Picnic Rotisserie.

Raskin sells about 100 pies per week. Like most pop-ups, Edith’s Pies lists the strains of the week on Instagram at the start of the week; they’re available for pre-order until they sell out online, with half pies and slices available for ordering. Typical offerings include a savory pie, like a vegetable quiche – “because I like the idea of ​​the breakfast pie, but you can’t always have a breakfast pie,” said Raskin – two or three seasonal fruit pies and a cream pie in a savory graham cracker crust, like a mango and passion fruit meringue or a strawberry and lime pie with macerated strawberries. Recently, Raskin has added frozen hand pies, such as spinach and goat cheese and spicy lamb and dates.

Edith’s Pie partners Mike Raskin (right) and Jeffrey Wright. (Photo / Senny Mau)

It seems mandatory that a Bay Area pie company source their fruits and vegetables from local farms, and Edith does (with the exception of more tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes.)

The week we tried the pies, we had Stone Fruit Pie, Apricot Blackberry Pie, and Caramel Banana Cream Pie. Fruit fillings are densely packed and not too sweet. While the whole pie is exceptional, the crusts deserve a special mention. Some of the fruit pies are topped with large crystals of demerara sugar, providing a sparkling sparkle, and the graham cracker crusts on the cream pies are saltier than most, by design.

When Raskin was a growing college student in Berkeley, he participated in the Edible Schoolyard program created by Alice Waters. After attending UC Santa Cruz, where he studied economic inequalities and labor justice, he briefly worked in the union organization before returning to the restaurant business, which he had done in university.

I love the idea of ​​breakfast pie, but you can’t always have breakfast pie.

Raskin said his paternal grandmother’s seders and other family gatherings in Detroit were “the most upsetting cooking and food whirlwind.” As a chef – he worked as a butcher in Chicago and opened a restaurant in Baja, Calif., Among other businesses – he always enjoyed serving family-style dishes, much of which comes from his memories of those meals. , did he declare. They implored her grandmother to sit at the table laden with food, where she sat for a second before insisting that they needed another hot vegetable and returned to the kitchen.

“She was an incredible cook. She and her temple friends together wrote a cookbook of their family recipes, ”he said. He was deeply offended when, years later, he learned that the flavor of his famous beef brisket recipe came from nothing more than onion powder, garlic powder, ketchup and soy sauce. “I grew up thinking it was this incredibly complex process that lasts all day.”

But throughout his life there always seemed to be pie. While in Chicago, he learned that “baking yourself in the Midwest is absolutely one thing.” On Fridays, he would often go out of his way to get a three mini-slice pie special on his way to work.

Back in the Bay Area in November 2019, he and his partner baked 20 pies for sale on Thanksgiving. From that week on he started experimenting with the pie, making a new recipe every week.

a pie with a red filling and a crisp lattice crust on top
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Edith’s Pie. (Photo / Adahlia Cole)

And then the pandemic arrived. By sheer luck, his apartment had two ovens and he hosted his first pie pop-up in late April 2020. Since comfort foods became a feature of the pandemic, it was a fortuitous moment.

In general, he said, his pie philosophy is not much different from that of many Bay Area chefs when it comes to food as a whole: “We are surrounded by amazing products, and I’ve always believed in ‘let the ingredients do the work’, and the pie is a great way for that, ”he said. “It’s a classic, simple food that, when done right, is more than the sum of its parts.”

While Raskin started Edith’s Pie himself, he now has a partner. Jeffrey Wright is a hospitality professional who works as a consultant for small food businesses, helping them grow.

“We’re on the same page about what we want to see in the hospitality world and how we want to run a business,” Wright said.

They both would like the industry to take better care of its workers by “not abusing people’s work or their time, and prioritizing forward-thinking practices, such as developing our possible health-centric benefits. mental, for example, “Raskin said. “We want to be part of the change in the way the hospitality industry treats its workers.”

A version of this article originally appeared on Berkeleyside Nosh. Used with permission.

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