In her role as an economic officer in the foreign service, Eater Young Guns semi-finalist and Maine Pie Line owner Bri(ana) Warner and her husband traveled the world, meeting interesting people and discovering new flavor combinations. In a recent interview, she tells Eater National, "I'd have a really good dessert, and think, 'How can I turn this into a pie?'"
Warner continues to blend social and culinary awareness. "We try to hire only from the refugee community. I have a lot of experience with international issues, and I totally have the experience of not speaking the language of where I'm living."
The refugees she employs have provided some wonderful inspiration for new pie flavors. Sai Woon of Burma learned to make Korean beef barbecue while he was in a refugee camp in Malaysia. When he made a test batch for Warner, she found it delicious, and very spicy, far too hot for American palates. She tailored the recipe to suit her audience and it is now one of her best sellers.
Another employee, Ayood Mahdi, worked on a recipe for a traditional Moroccan lamb kefta, a mixed plate which includes such ingredients as apricots, almonds, and a ton of middle eastern spices. Together, they successfully converted it to a hand pie, encapsulating the experience in a portable, edible container.
For Warner, keeping her pie flavors international is a side benefit of hiring refugees. It's simply the right thing to do, though. "Sometimes these are people who might be incredibly accomplished in their home country, but coming to America they have trouble even getting basic jobs. Bakers don't need a lot of English," Warner explains, "so they can start their lives in a foreign place, learn some of the language, and contribute some of their own international flair to the process."
Pies from Maine Pie Line can be ordered online or picked up in person at the bakery Wed-Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday from 9am-1pm, depending on availability. Warner also wholesales to some retailers in the Portland, Maine area, and recently began shipping frozen pies throughout New England with distributor Northeast Specialty Foods.
· Maine Pie Line [Website]
· Meet the Young Guns Semi-Finalists: Briana Warner [-Eater-]
· All Maine Pie Line Coverage [-EME-]
· All Eater Young Guns 2014 Coverage [-EME-]
[Photo: Ted Axelrod]