Closed for Sabbatical | Returning March, 20209
Andrea French (Co-founder) and sister Stephanie French (Co-founder)
Ottawa-born sisters Andrea and Stephanie French opened the original The Pie Shoppe location in Chinatown in 2012. The 310-square-foot space had only a few stools, a refurbished home oven, and a six-by-three-foot solid fir work table, with a menu of 4-6 rotating seasonal pies plus a couple of classic mainstays. Since expanding into The Hamilton’s 1200-square-foot cafe in 2016 they’ve increased their offerings to include house made ice cream, weekly coffee roasting, savoury take home pies and a broader sweet pie menu, plus a community art gallery and more seating.
Visiting The Pie Shoppe, the sisters want to recreate the feeling that you are a guest in their home. Their service style harks on genuine and casual. The space is enhanced with bespoke furniture made by local designers Ben McLaughlin, Jon Igharas, Kate Duncan and Hobo Woodworks, and the extensive ceramic collection was hand selected from local potters who double as friends. The ambient music mimics the sisters’ moods from any given day.
At the core of the business are the seasonal small-batch pies, using locally milled organic flours, butter and H2O for the pastry, a few free-range eggs, cream, sugar and spice for custard, and a little seasonal fruit macerated in a zest of citrus with a pinch of sweetness. All bespoke pies are handmade daily for the offering and sing with creative flavour combinations such as a Rhubarb Compote & Orange Buttermilk Custard with a Cardamom Whip, Apricot Almond Butter Streusel with Son’s of Van Barrel Aged Amaretto, Salted Honey Pie with neighbourhood Apiaries, Walnut & White Rye with Resurrection Distillery’s own, to recite a few.
Although strictly seasonal and based on supporting British Columbia produce from treasured suppliers, the pies themselves take on a wanderlust from the girls’ Southern Ontario childhoods and much of their early twenties spent traveling and cooking in Britain, Asian, Australia, India and South America. The coffee program expands on a similar focus, with a seasonally rotating coffee selection from green coffee suppliers showcasing individual stories from growers.
The ladies also offer pie making workshops to share their secrets and techniques. Their mission is to restore the skills and respect back into the pie craft. Born from a large farming community, both their grandmothers and aunties were skilled bakers, mostly out of necessity, and this history has mapped out the sister’s baking habits, quality of life and seasonal menu. The heirloom varieties are what tell the stories, build the flavour and create the memories.
The Pie Shoppe occasionally hosts guest chefs and often invites other creatives into their space to showcase curated art works and entertain pop-up restaurant concepts celebrating fellow chefs and young entrepreneurs. They are excited to continue celebrating and supporting urban farmers, local distilleries and breweries, apiaries and small scale producers of preserves, jams and confectionaries by wrapping them all up in a bit of pastry. This growing community influences and shapes the ladies’ pie business.
Set away in a white-washed converted former Bank of Hamilton building, built in 1910, with the Canadian National Railway Co. running a mere 6 ft. behind the kitchen window and backdropped by the serene North Shore mountain scape, having a bite at The Pie Shoppe is at once captivating and enchanting. Once you know about this special tucked away spot, it’s something you’ll find yourself yearning to do repeatedly.