With Lisa Ludwinski of Sister Pie
WHAT DO SPONTANEOUS DANCING, COMMUNITY ADVOCACY AND WHIPPED CREAM HAVE IN COMMON? THEY’RE ALL SERVED UP ALONGSIDE DELICIOUS BAKED GOODS AT SISTER PIE, A BAKERY IN DETROIT’S HISTORIC WEST VILLAGE. WE TALKED WITH MICHIGAN NATIVE LISA LUDWINSKI ABOUT HER POPULAR BAKESHOP AND GOT HER TAKE ON SOME OF THE BEST WAYS TO EXPERIENCE THE RESURGING MOTOR CITY RIGHT NOW.
How did you become a pastry chef ?
I quickly moved to New York after college to pursue a theater career in directing. I was almost immediately distracted by food, both what I saw in the city and what I read about in books and blogs. I started filming a silly, low-budget cooking show out of my various Brooklyn apartments, trying on a new recipe every week. This experience ignited my passion for food, and after many adventures in vlogging, I began working at Momofuku Milk Bar. Only weeks into working in a professional kitchen and I was in love with the hustle and creativity that comes with bakery life.
How did Sister Pie come to be?
After living in Brooklyn for six years, I had a growing itch to return to Michigan and start my own business. I knew I wanted to open a good-food/do-good kinda place, and pie seemed like the right place to start. The concept was inspired by both a commitment to baking with seasonal Michigan produce, and the broad definition of sisterhood and what that can mean in a workplace and community space.
Describe the experience of visiting Sister Pie.
Our goal is to be a welcoming, friendly place for all people, and we try to achieve that with an open kitchen design, a full pastry case with options for many palates, big windows pouring light onto the communal table, and a steady mix of tunes that runs from ’90s R&B to Joy Division. The place is always buzzing with customers, a full staff of bakers, and you’re likely to hear the sound of rolling pins hitting pie dough and oven timers going off as you enjoy a slice.
Tart pies! My ultimate pie is probably our cranberry crumble pie: all-butter, flaky crust; Michigan cranberries, both whole and in compote form; and a buttery, brown sugar crumble on top. I like to eat it in a bowl, smashed up with some vanilla ice cream or fresh whip.
I’m also obsessed with plum pies, and the way they bake down into the most wonderful jammy texture. Peach plum is an especially great combination. I could go on.
What dish sums up the city for you?
The catfish tofu sandwich with sweet potato fries at Detroit Vegan Soul [at right]. It’s made with love by two native Detroiters who opened a restaurant to nourish their families and friends with traditional soul food, but wanted to offer healthier, more sustainable options. Their mission is deep with love, community and really good food.
“BELLE ISLE, Detroit’s beautiful, east side park, is a perfect picnic destination. The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is especially worth a visit.” belleisleconservancy.org
“DETROIT VEGAN SOUL is one of my favorite places to grab a casual dinner, and they now have two locations! Owned and operated by partners Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd, this place has my favorite veggie burger in the city.” detroitvegansoul.com
“Detroit’s pride and joy, EASTERN MARKET boasts restaurants, shops and a massive covered Farmer’s Market that operates every Saturday, as well as on Tuesdays in the summertime. I love stopping at the Grown in Detroit table and grabbing a slice from Supino’s or a burger at Cutter’s.” easternmarket.com
“DEQUINDRE CUT GREENWAY is my favorite spot for a quick run, bike ride or leisurely walk. This urban recreational path features incredible art and graffiti and connects the Detroit riverfront to Eastern Market.” detroitriverfront.org
Banana Pete pie (top) and blueberry plum balsamic pie LUDWINSKI’S TOP DETROIT PICKS
Catfish tofu sandwich with sweet potato fries