The Pie Lady is back

PIE-3By NICOLE REED
Every year around July 1, Wil Tyler, the son of Pie Lady & Son, begins The Peach Watch.

The peach growers of Georgia send word theirs are ready, but Wil stays put. In the next week or two, he’ll hear from South Carolina and Virginia, too, but he won’t act on it. He always waits for fresh, delicious peaches from the bordering state of New Jersey.

Luckily for Sound Shore pie lovers, Pie Lady & Son is now baking with peaches from Sunny Slope Farm in Bridgeton, N.J.

“Everyone likes peach pie, if they like pie at all,” Wil said.

Yet there are subtleties to people’s preferences, so Pie Lady & Son has three varieties of peach pie on their seasonal menu.

Wil’s personal favorite is the Classic Peach Pie, coupled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Deborah and Wil Tyler of Pie Lady & Son  Photos courtesy Pie Lady & Son

Deborah and Wil Tyler of Pie Lady & Son
Photos courtesy Pie Lady & Son

They also offer peach pie with walnut-crumble top and peach raspberry pie.

“We always like to serve a pie with contrasting flavors, such as sweet and tart, throughout the year,” he said.

Pie Lady & Son started in the early 1990s, when Wil Tyler was just a boy, and his mom, Deborah, started baking pies. She learned the art of baking while studying in England and working in the college kitchen. There she watched the lead baker, a woman who made huge batches of all-butter pie crust and who “didn’t even measure the water” in her recipes.

“People have such trepidation about pie crusts, yet this lady was fearless. I didn’t come back with a recipe, but I came home inspired by her style, by her fearlessness,” Deborah Tyler said.

Years later, when Deborah was a single mother with three kids all under age 10, this inspiration, and her need for income, led her to bake pies from home. She advertised them with a sign on the road and conducted her sales from the back porch. She also sold at a farmers market in Nyack and got a big break when a customer who was a food writer for The New York Times celebrated her pies in print.

She called her business “The Nyack Pie Kitchen,” but her customers nicknamed her, “The Pie Lady.”

Yet the boom in sales proved to be too much at the time. Deborah had a household full of kids to manage, and no one to help guide the business. So she closed up shop in 2001.

“I always thought it was a shame that it ended and I wanted to convince her to try it again,” Wil said.

First, he asked her to teach him how to bake the pies. She did, but she wouldn’t stick around the kitchen. Then, he asked her for her recipes. She shared them, but she wouldn’t linger over them.

Then Wil started baking the pies himself. He even got some sales going at a local holiday craft fair.

“A lot of people remembered my mom and they’d say, ‘Oh, the Pie Lady is back,’ even though it was really just me,” he said.

The Pie Lady & Son’s apple pie

The Pie Lady & Son’s apple pie

Then, at Thanksgiving in 2009, Wil got orders for 30 pies. With no experience and a tiny oven, he begged his mother to come help him. When she saw what was coming out of the kitchen, she said, “There’s no way you’re going to sell these pies under my name.”

She came back.

Now in 2014, this year is the first full season of Pie Lady & Son at Rye’s Down to Earth Farmers Market. They bake eight to 12 flavors of pie each week, with a variation sure to please every palate.

In addition to the talent of Pie Lady & Son, the farmers market gathers together local farmers, who bring the seasonal harvest. During this prime time, they sell fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches, plums, watermelon, eggplant, summer squash and much more. The market also features cheese, breads, baked goods, pasture-raised meat, poultry and eggs, pickles and prepared foods to go—just to name some of the offerings. It’s located in the parking lot behind the Purchase Street stores, open every Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Dec 7, 2014.