Off the Pie Charts!
Career-changer Andrea DiReda Taber finds her dream job by creating homemade farm fresh, no trans fats pies -- made from scratch and ready-to-bake, at the Ever So Humble Pie Company in East Walpole, MA
by Eric H.
WALPOLE, MA -- Andrea DiReda Taber tastes the sweet smell of success on a daily basis.
Tired of bureaucracy and waning one-on-one patient care, Taber, 54, left behind 25 years of nursing to create a business made from scratch: pie making.
The brave move was no "pie-in-the-sky" idea, as Taber opened the Ever So Humble Pie Company in East Walpole, in 2002. With a vision of making preservative-free pies sourced from local New England farms employing responsible farming methods, Taber's business has gained popularity as a wholesome alternative to mass-produced, assembly-line pies laced with monosodium glutamate, trans fats, hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and other offending, unhealthy chemicals.
"If you take pride in what you're doing, then you use the best ingredients," said Taber. "We use unbleached, unbromated flour, natural corn starch and farm produce including locally grown apples. The Big Apple Farm in Wrentham (Mass.) supplies our apples. We use 640 pounds of their apples a week. During Thanksgiving, we used 2,800 pounds of the apples."
Recently moving from the second floor into a beautiful first-floor 3,500 retail facility in East Walpole's Hogan Building, Taber soon plans to open a cafe adding lunch and dinner items and, hopefully, waterfront outdoor dining overlooking the Neponset River.
Likening her hand-crimped pies to the "pies your grandmother used to make," Taber said that a key to creating quality pies is employing "slower production." that focus on "making pies the right way." The result is a noticeably fresher-tasting pie than grocery store offerings. Taber also takes the road less taken when creating pies. She favors cinnamon and lemon over nutmeg in her blueberry pie. Flavors like raspberry nectarine, "Squmpkin" (sugar pumpkins and winter squash) and orange pineapple create different, delicious pie options. The Jumble Berry, the company's "Blue Ribbon Winner," pie is sort of like a local farmer's market "greatest hits" package with tart Cape Cod cranberries, wild blueberries, strawberries and oranges.
"Mass produced products use more seasonings than fruits, so customers know they are tasting the 'real thing' with our pies," said Taber.
The Ever So Humble Pie Company consists of a large manufacturing shop where customers can see how the pies are made and a small retail section with a freezer full of delicious fruit pies that customers bring home and bake themselves. The frozen, ready-to-bake pies are also available at local farms (see below for locations). Taber also offers nutty tarts, fruit crisps, hermits, cannoli cones, and raspberry hearts (a heart-shaped pastry made from pie crust and filled with tart ruby raspberries). This summer, Taber will offer gluten-free pies for those who have related food sensitivities.
Taber's passion for pies can be detected the minute a customer leaves the car and enters the "Hogie" Building (named after the building's owner, Terry Hogan), an old factory where "you would expect to get bearings or sheet metal, not pies," said Taber. Outside and inside, the sweet, pie aroma permeates the area so strongly that it makes one wonder if all the grandmothers in Western civilization moved to East Walpole.
Five employees create these baking masterpieces, including Taber's son Daniel, 25, who passed on a contruction-oriented career to, like his mother, work a job he truly enjoys. Taber's other son, Timothy, 20, and husband Donald -- a retired Boston fire lieutenant -- also pitch in at the shop, as well).
The business has gained local and national media attention, including The Food Network that featured Taber's business on the show "Recipe for Success," focusing on people making successful career changes.
"It has been nice, the coverage we've been getting," said Taber. "We really take pride in what we do, so it's nice to get noticed."
Taber's love for baking dates back to her Worcester, Mass., childhood where her mother and two grandmothers' great baking skills served as blueprints for her business.
"Both my grandmothers were scratch bakers and my mother taught me how to make 'everything' from scratch," said Taber. "My grandmother from my mother's side had 11 children and she also made everything from scratch. She made many things for the Polish church. I am the third generation and am blessed to have those genes."
The strong love for baking never left Taber, even during her busiest times as a nurse. As a graduate of Memorial School of Nursing and Worcester State College, Taber worked eight years as a neonatal ICU nurse at the Floating Hospital in Boston, as well as working in home care and teaching nursing. Her growing dissatisfaction with the nursing profession resulted in considering a career change, as she found great joy developing a pie line for, and working weekends, at Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, Mass.. At that time, Taber also obtained a residential kitchen permit for her home in Sharon, Mass., and later shared space at a friend's bakery in Medway, Mass.
She started thinking more about a baking career and less about continuing in nursing.
"Nursing changed a lot," said Taber. "It wasn't hands-on patient care. I liked the one-on-one patient care. It became more about paperwork and numbers."
Starting from scratch and baking from scratch eventually became a success story for Taber. A growing customer base, and a cooperative program with the local farms where they supplies the materials to Taber and then sell the final products has resulted in a beloved daily routine that goes well beyond just making money. Taber works an average of 20 more hours a week than when she worked in nursing and doesn't have the consistent paycheck of her former profession. She wouldn't have it any other way.
"It isn't about compensation," said Taber. "There are many other immeasurable awards that come with what I'm doing."
The facts on the Ever So Humble Pie Company:
Location: 153 Washington St., East Walpole, MA 02081
Telephone: (508) 660-9731
Retail Hours: Mon. - Fri., 9-6 and Sat. 9-3 (pie sampling is offered during these weekend hours, also!)
Web Site: http://www.eversohumble.com
Frozen, Ready to Bake Fruit Pies
Apple, Wild Blueberry, Cherry, Jumble Berry( tart Cape Cod cranberries,
sweet strawberries, wild blueberries and zesty oranges) Mince, Orange
Pineapple, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and "Squmpkin" (field harvested
sugar pumpkins and winter squash cooked with
Other products: Nutty tarts, hermits, cannoli cones, whoopie pies, fruit crisps and raspberry hearts.
Ever So Humble Pies are available at these locations -
& Paul's Farm
Spring Street Farm,
Ever So Humble will also be selling its products at the following Farmers' Markets:
The Wharf at Lower Mills,
Milton Opening June 18, 2009
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