PORT ANGELES, Wash. — It's the center of the Pie Universe.
A home in Port Angeles where countless people join Kate McDermott virtually in her cozy kitchen to get hands-on help making the perfect pie.
"I really feel like pie called me,” said McDermott from her home, which she calls Pie Cottage, over strong coffee and a blueberry tart she just pulled from the oven.
This home cook answered that call with her first cookbook Art of the Pie, which received a 2017 James Beard nomination.
"Which is kinda cool for a first-time author in her sixties,” she laughed. McDermott followed that up with Home Cooking with Kate McDermott, and her latest cookbook, Pie Camp, just hit the shelves. It’s filled with mouth-watering photos of McDermott’s creations shot by Andrew Scrivani of the New York Times, and it promises to teach ‘the skills you need to make any pie you want’.
And the timing's perfect - we could all use some pie.
"I think pie therapy is getting a lot of us through a lot of our day right now."
There's something about a pie. Kate's in-person pie camps always sell out – and she’s traveled the world teaching others not just how to make pies, but sharing stories about recipes, tools and traditions she’s discovered as one of the nation’s preeminent pie professionals. Today because of COVID concerns she teaches her classes from home, from a homemade studio just off her kitchen, and her virtual Pie Camps still sell out.
“You’ve made something, and to be able to share it with someone, is probably one of the best things in the world."
She also shares some of that pie love with local indie book store Port Book and News - it's the only place to get a copy of Pie Camp signed by the queen of tarts. In each book she signs, she also writes a message: Be Happy Make Pie!
Oh - and there's one more thing about this woman with a passion for pie. Much of what she makes for her cookbooks and classes she cannot eat.
“I have celiac disease,” she explained.
Gluten intolerance helped her perfect a flour-free pie crust, and it’s among her most in-demand recipes, because everyone needs a slice of pie now and then. And it really doesn’t matter to her that she can’t eat a lot of what she makes, because Pie Camp, and pies, are for sharing.
“In teaching it I'm passing on a craft with the hope that we'll keep it going for generations to come.”
And no matter what the recipe, there's one thing that all of Kate McDermott’s pies have in common.
“It's more than just the ingredients on the page, it's what we put into it, and that most important ingredient of all comes right from here,” she smiled, putting her hand over her heart.