An Interview with Shauna Lott of The Long I Pie

by Grace Boyle on January 1, 2014

As I was making my way around holiday gatherings and parties at the end of December, foodie friends kept mentioning The Long I Pie Shop. I was intrigued, as I hadn’t heard of this local business before and wherever I went, I kept hearing the steady “Long I Pie” being mentioned. You know then, it’s something special.

As I meandered through Shauna Lott’s website, my mouth turned up slightly in a smile, I couldn’t wait to share what she’s cooking up [pun slightly intended] and for you to learn more about her social cause and pies. It’s evident there’s a lot of heart in her work and with such a small amount of bakeries in Boulder, I’m happy to welcome a mobile one such as hers.

Shauna Lott

We’re also both originally from the Midwest. Special kin right there.

Even more timely, she’s in the midst of a Kickstarter fundraiser and it ends on January 9th, so you might want to consider supporting her before then.

I spoke with Shauna to delve into her business, to talk pie, storytelling, her concept of home, her giving back employment plan, partnership with non-profits and more.

Tell me about the name “Long I” – where did it come from? Does it mean something?

Every Tuesday night, two of my closest friends and I sit around the kitchen table at our house, drink wine, and catch up on our weeks and dreams.  I look forward to Tuesday nights each week.  One particular Tuesday night, last Spring, I was talking about my dream of opening up a mobile pie shop and we were brainstorming ideas of names for the little shop.  My friend, Mandy, said “how about The Long I?  Pie has the ī sound.”  We are all a little nerdy in the house and Mandy was an English Lit major in college.  We all loved it and it stuck.  I love that it was birthed around our dining room table because that’s how pie should be consumed – around a table with friends or family.

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Your family loves to bake and your mother and Grandmother passed on their love of baking and giving back to you. What inspired you to create a business around baking beyond just cooking for pleasure / a hobby?

I’m building a business around the concept of home.  To me, pie is home and, for some reason, has this way of taking people back to whatever feels like “home” in their mind.  It takes me back to when I was a young girl growing up in Indiana on a crisp autumn evening sitting around my Grandma Lott’s dining room table after dinner eating pie and playing gin rummy.

You bake out of a cast iron skillet – tell us why this makes your pies special? What does it do to the crust?

Cast iron is an amazing material!  I bake in it because it bakes the pie in 30 – 35 minutes instead of 55 – 60 minutes (standard for typical pie baking).  It makes our crust extra buttery, flaky, and crispy.  Our pies don’t get soggy crusts like a lot of pies do that you might bake at home in glass or buy from the store.

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When you sit down to enjoy a slice of pie, what’s your go to?

Grandma’s Pie – spiced cranberry apple pie.  It’s my comfort food.

Your salted, lavender honey pie sounds amazing and delightfully unique. Where do you draw inspiration for your pies and tell us about some of your interesting pies?

Pie is a creative process.  Don’t be scared to experiment.  The worst that can happen is that it tastes a bit off the first round.  You can always bake it again.  I love the creative process of coming up with new recipes.  Our recipes are a blend of family recipes and experimental recipes where I try to capture a moment in a pie.

For example, The Honey Flower is from a memory of walking down Baseline Road in Boulder from Chautauqua Park early on in living in Boulder.  There’s a part of the road that’s lined with lavender bushes that are always filled with honeybees in the summer.  I just remember being overwhelmed in the best kind of way by the smell.  The “Too Piglet to Quit” pie is from a moment I had with some of my best friends last Spring while in Paris sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower.  We picked up a banquette, some brie, prosciutto, apples, and wine from a local market place and had the coldest, but most delightful Spring picnic in Paris.  I like each pie to tell a story.

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Where can we find your pies (now and in the future with the mobile pie shop)?

Anyone in the Boulder / Denver area can order a pie for delivery.  Right now, you can submit a form on our website – www.thelongipie.com .  When the mobile shop is up and running, we will be moving around the Boulder / Denver area.  Keep your eyes on our social media outlets and website for our locations daily in the future.  We are connecting with other local businesses in Boulder and Denver to set up shop outside of their shop.

As you’re looking to launch your “pie shop on wheels” you have a Kickstarter going until January 9th. Tell us about what contributions will go toward and why this project is so important to you?

Our Kickstarter runs until January 9th and we are attempting to raise $20,000 for purchase and remodel of an airstream trailer to house our little pie shop on wheels.  Kickstarter is an ALL or NOTHING crowd sourcing website, so we need to hit $20,000 by January 9th at 8 p.m. MST.  We’d love for you to back the project at as little or as much as you can.   The rewards are from some amazing companies like Stitch & Hammer, Reno Bros, PieBox, Winter Session, and Sox Place Screen Printing, as well as some amazing pie rewards from The Long I Pie Shop.  It’s important that we raise the money, so we can start building out the pie shop early in 2014.

Our heart and mission behind The Long I Pie Shop is to not only make the best quality pie for our community, but to give youth at risk of homelessness, incarceration, and exploitation a first chance at employment.  The sooner we can get the shop up and running, then the sooner we can start our youth employment services program.

Long I Pie, Shauna

I understand you will partner with local non-profits and schools to do a youth employment services program through the mobile pie shop. What a wonderful effort. Was this sparked from your longtime social work and what are you hoping to accomplish through your employment plan?

For the past four years, I’ve worked with youth and refugee families living with HIV in Denver.  I loved every second of my work, but ran across a huge roadblock with both youth and refugees when it came to employment.  No one will give them a first chance at employment due to language barriers, no experience, or potential criminal backgrounds on top of no experience.  If the youth I worked with were given a first chance at employment by a supportive employer, that would have really given them a good footing to step into the future.  Our goal with the youth employment program is to teach them skills from interviewing with a potential employer to customer service skills, help them reach goals that they want for their life like graduating high school or getting their GED, and giving them a good reference for future employment.  We all know that without stable employment in the U.S., one can’t really obtain or maintain stable housing or keep food on the table.

Our plan is to hire a few youth at a time for 6 months to a year to help them gain some stable employment for their resume and build skills for the future.  We want to then help them apply and interview for school or other employment that they are interested in.

When do you hope to be up and running?

March 2014

Do you plan to just serve pies? Will there be beverages? Snacks?

As for food, we plan to serve both savory and sweet pies by the slice.  We are working on partnerships with local coffee roasters and other beverage companies to serve in the shop as well.  We will also have a “kitchen and pie friendly” tiny market in the airstream carrying predominantly local vendors.

Special thanks to Shauna for taking the time to share her story and business inspiration. You can learn more about The Long I Pie Shop on their website or if you’re interested in supporting her Kickstarter, you can find that here.

Note: All these beautiful photos included in this post are courtesy of Caitlin Fairly Photography.

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