The artful baker

The artful baker
Photo by Stephen Gross
Connecting with amateur baker turned pie-making guru Kate McDermott ’76.
Photo by Stephen Gross

Kate McDermott is the kind of person who brings a pie to share when arriving for a 5:30 a.m. flight at the tiny airport near her home in Port Angeles, Washington. “I think we’re all looking for ways to connect,” she says. “And what better way than pie?”

McDermott, who has worked as a professional accompanist and in public affairs, says she has enjoyed baking since childhood. Pie making began with a two-and-a-half-year quest to develop the perfect crust. Folks who tasted her pies started asking for lessons, and, six years later, McDermott’s Art of the Pie workshops have grown into a thriving second business. Her recipes, which emphasize getting a “feel” for baking over precise measurement, have been featured in Saveur and in the Washington Post. After she filmed a segment making pie with Ruth Reichl, then editor-in-chief of Gourmet, Reichl said to her, “This has been the most liberating experience. You break every rule and it turns out every time.”

McDermott encourages her students to do the same—just get in there and do it. “There’s no right or wrong. It’s just pie,” she says. And if it doesn’t turn out, “Pour it into the lasagna pan and you’ve got a great crumble.”

For more information, including recipes and upcoming classes, visit artofthepie.com.

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