SPOTLIGHT: Déjà Vu interviews ... A Pie Party
Hands down, one of the best ways to spend a Sunday in East London is to stroll around Victoria Park Market sampling loads of yummy street food, picking up some produce to enjoy at home and for me recently, ending the trip with a great big slice of pie from A Pie Party.
Of course, Claire (the pie queen behind this idea) had to be interviewed for this feature, as her ideas are ingenius, the execution is amazing and this is all coming from someone who would live off of savoury, umami flavours if I could. But thanks to A Pie Party, I am a changed woman.
So what is the story behind A Pie Party?
Before we start, it should be highlighted that this is not Claire’s main job and in fact, she still works a regular 9-5 alongside her dessert pie business. Amazing pie woman or what, right? Claire was struck by the idea of dessert pies when she was holidaying in New York and she saw the easy way that the States interacted with pie as a dessert concept, realised that the UK had its huge trend of cupcakes, waffles and brownies but pie had never had its heyday.
But even in having this sweet idea, a long love of baking and a killer sweet tooth, Claire realised she had never really attempted to bake pies and pastry wasn’t one of her fortés so then came the realisation that “this idea came without ability”, as she put it. A year of intense pastry making evenings went down and after a recipe was perfected, the creative flair for fillings came around. Go to Vikky Park on a Sunday and expect to find flavours ranging from Biscoff Brownie to Peanut Brittle pie and it’s Claire’s knack for imaginative flavours that keeps her loyal customers coming back for more. The first flavour she tried out on is one she deems to be her favourite: The Buttermilk Pie. She says “it’s just not something we get in the UK and that’s the way to create a business, make something you can’t get somewhere else”.
After having an initial disappointing run in North Cross Market, Claire took part in KERB’s inKERBator scheme for twelve weeks and has now moved onto being a regular vendor in Sunday’s Victoria Park Market. Whilst many would say she’s successful (she usually sells out of her monthly specials by 11am or midday), she remains humble and describes how there are many highs and lows with the business that make her question whether she can keep it all up. She’s kept the first £10 note from her first sale and says that it’s a great memento of how far she’s come and we even joked that she could frame it and put it up in her future pie bar. Yas to future goals! Claire’s firm and happy being at Vikky Park on a Sunday but you can also find her pie creations at Oh My Dog on Southbank or Eat 17 in Walthamstow, where she supplies three of their stores.
Read below for a couple of extra snippets from our interview:
How did you come up with the name of your business?
The end goal of the business is a bar, I want to create London’s first pie bar so I had that in mind when creating the name of the business. I also wanted to get across the idea of fun, community, coming together and having a PARTY.
If you could describe A Pie Party in 3 words, what would they be?
Fun, creative, quality.
What’s the best thing about being a street food vendor?
The people I’ve met since starting the business – both vendors and customers who have become good friends of mine. In my horribly corporate everyday job, I just wouldn’t have had the chance to meet them. There are days where you doubt everything but the people I’ve met through Instagram show just how worth it it is and the market feels like a day off in itself with lots of yummy food swaps going on too.
I’ve been a fan of street food for so long and to now be working alongside these great vendors is something you can’t put into words. There’s a big sense of camaraderie and a strong sense of community within the street food vendor circle. A lot of us are direct competitors but that doesn’t stop me from posting a great dish on Instagram - we’re all just trying to do our best!
What one dish from your stall would you recommend to a first timer?
The monthly special! I always plan it far in advance, taste test it and decide which one I think will go down well but it always changes. The other pies will always be there rotating week to week but the monthly special is only available for 4 weeks - this month’s special is Raspberry Ripple.
Has Instagram had an effect on your business? If so, how?
I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about Instagram! It’s great because it’s a free advertising tool, it makes me feel close to my customers; I do polls for pie flavours and just get to engage directly which brings a lot of custom from Instagram in general. It’s absolutely vital for the success of my business and yes, for a food business you need to put quite a lot of effort into Instagram but it’s worth it. Instagram has had a massive impact on the aesthetic of the pies as well funnily enough and how I’ve now made them look or how they photograph. I learnt very quickly that Instagrammers and food bloggers want ones covered in chocolate and for them to look very “Instagrammable” but it’s great because a lot of people discover the pies through Instagram anyway.
Team Déjà Vu would love to say a massive thanks to Claire from A Pie Party for taking the time out of being a pie superwoman to have an interview with us! Look forward to more Spotlights from our favourite street food vendors and be sure to continue the conversation on Instagram and Twitter using #dejavuloyalty.