Low-fat is not part of the vocabulary at the Savory Pie Company.
“I’ve had people ask me if I had any low-fat and I look at them like you’ve got to be kidding me,” owner Dee Smith said at her Tea Lane Catering kitchen in Chilmark this week. “There’s a need for gluten free and we’re just starting with that, but there’s certainly no word like low-fat in our category of pies.”
“Pies are perfection,” she added. “The smell of butter on your hands when you’ve thrown the dough, it’s my cologne.”
At Savory Pies, Ms. Smith has built a stable of flavors not usually found in a pie: garden vegetable, roasted vegetable root, eggplant Parmesan, lobster mac and cheese, beef burgundy, seafood, and, of course, chicken pot pie.
“The crust is key,” she said of her mother’s recipe. “Pie touches you from the heart.”
What began three years ago as an exercise in what-to-do with Thanksgiving leftovers has become a booming business.
“We throw a couple hundred disks in a day and are selling over 100 pies a week,” Ms. Smith said.
Savory Pies offers both large and small pies. They are not cheap, though. Large pies range from $25 to $40, but Ms. Smith urges customers to look at the servings. Each pie can serve up to eight people, running slices at about $3 to $5.
But the proof is in the pie.
“If you’re buying fast food and you’re spending $25 that’s what you’re going to get - it tastes like fast food,” she said. “If you spend $25 on a mac and cheese pie or a vegetable pie, it’s going to taste like the real deal because it is. It’s not garbage. It’s just wholesome: cream and butta.”
Inspiration for her pies came from childhood.
“[My mother] had six kids and she would throw all kinds of junk and leftovers in and a can of cream of mushroom soup; she was a cook from the depression,” Ms. Smith said.
“One Thanksgiving I had all these leftovers and I said shoot, I’m going to throw it all in a pie shell ... and I said, damn, that’s good. The next thing I know I’m off with this crazy project.”
Last Friday Ms. Smith was enjoying some downtime in her kitchen, a rarity between her Tea Lane Catering, Phantom Chef delivery service and the pies. The Savory Pie Company provides year-round jobs for her Tea Lane Caterers staff.
The kitchen is her home, quite literally – she lives above the kitchen. Living and working in the same location proves both difficult and rewarding, and, at times, amusing.
“I had some ladies come from New Jersey this summer looking for the Savory Pie Company,” Ms. Smith recalled. “My son says we’re closed, and I run out in my pajamas saying we’re never closed and they bought a seafood pie. I gave them a tour of the facility and that was it. I said, ‘I wonder if they’re spies. What are they doing up here from New Jersey?’”
The customers came back and ordered 16 pies for their New Year’s Eve party.
Ms. Smith said the idea of Savory Pies is to make life in the kitchen easier, especially at the holidays. The pies can be served as an appetizer, entree, or, in the case of one client, stand in for an entire Thanksgiving dinner.
“I like the take and bake idea because it permeates your house,” she said.
Ms. Smith described her pies as “toothsome, lip-smacking and wholesome.” They are available at Cronig’s, Reliable Market, Edgartown Meat and Fish, the Net Result, and Eden Market. Meat pies are only available at the Tea Lane Caterers kitchen on Clambelly Road off Tea Lane in Chilmark. Just follow the pie tins.
On Saturday she’ll be selling frozen pies out of her custom made freezer truck at Eden’s Market.
“I bought it because I had to have it, it is the cutest little thing in the whole world,” she said.
And expansion is inevitable. Right now she’s working on a butternut squash and risotto pie, and a black bean and rice with mango salsa pie.
“I’m hoping I have 25 people working for me, that’s what I want,” she said. “I want to build the empire and let it roll.”