It all began in a farmhouse in Maine.
When Marie Bigbee met her mother-in-law, Sasha Jean, one of the first things they did together was bake.
“When we first met, I had never made a pie crust, so Sasha shared her recipe,” Bigbee said. “Over the years, we found joy and connected over cooking as a family. What better way to celebrate that than over a slice of pie?”
The two began selling their sweet and savory pies out of Bigbee’s farmhouse. Her two daughters, Charlie, nine, and Ella, six, also helped out in the kitchen. After moving to Orcas last June, Jean and Bigbee decided to share their love of baking with others.
They opened Passionate for Pies in the former Orcas Island Realty building on Main Street across from Key Bank. The cafe almost became a drive-thru when an unattended car plunged into the freshly installed dry wall in December. Opening day was set back a bit because of the incident. Since their launch in mid-February, it’s been nothing but busy.
“Our passion is in the fresh ingredients,” Jean said. “It’s taking good products and putting them into the pie format. And knowing it’s good for you.”
In their large commercial kitchen that was designed to look and feel like a country kitchen, the bakers whip up traditional pie fare, like apple, cherry, rhubarb, and chocolate, coconut, and lemon crème as well as savory pies with roasted chicken, beef, goat cheese and tomato, and smoked salmon and asparagus.
Bigbee and Jean don’t use any white sugar in their recipes. They stick to natural sweeteners like agave nectar, rapadura, molasses, and honey.
“We only sweeten to accentuate the fruit, not hide it,” Bigbee said. “The way we make it, having chocolate crème pie for breakfast isn’t out of the question.”
They use meat from Jones Family Farm on Lopez, flour from Bellingham, dairy from Lynden, butter from Oregon, and produce from Washington, Oregon, and California. Once the summer season begins, their produce will come from Orcas farms.
They also serve coffee and tea and sell Wizard Water, a blend of hibiscus, acidophilus, and royal jelly, that Bigbee’s husband (Jean’s son) makes. They sell slices or whole pies.
The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating and reflects the business partners’ belief in organic, fresh, healthy products. The floor is made out of recycled brown paper bags with words like “organic,” “bliss,” and “fair trade” scrawled across it. The countertops are made from recycled cardboard and the walls are American Clay. All of the silverware and cups are compostable.
The baking duo say their favorite menu items change every week, as they try out new recipes constantly. For now, Bigbee loves the chocolate crème pie and Jean is partial to the smoked salmon and asparagus tart.
“Marie makes the sweet pies, and I make the savory items,” Jean said. “It fits our personalities perfectly.”
Passionate for Pies is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.