Chris Porter, Pie Piper
By Jessica Yadegaran
November 9, 2016
Since opening in 2012, A la Mode Pies has become a fixture on Phinney Ridge, and it’s hard to imagine a visit to neighboring Woodland Park Zoo without a stop at the tiny bakery for a warm slice. With the October opening of A la Mode West Seattle (4225 SW Alaska St.; 206.456.4343; alamodeseattle.com), Chris Porter has elevated the pie experience into a high-concept restaurant with full dinner service. The 2,000-square-foot space features theater-style baking, sweet and savory pies, PieFries (see below!), pie-infused ice creams and a mathematician’s dream: happy hour every day at 3:14 p.m.
Seattle Magazine: A la Mode has really grown since 2009, when it was just you and your online delivery service. What makes pie so popular?
Chris Porter: Pie is comfort, and no other dessert has that. Not cupcakes. Not doughnuts. Sometimes on a stressful day, a slice of pie next to a scoop of melty ice cream is really all you need.
SM: Seattle has good spots for sweet pie, but not many places do savory pies. Can you talk about your savory lineup?
CP: Our savory items come as pies, tarts and hand pies, including chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, braised beef and, my favorite, a Mexican pie called Hey Hey Ole.
SM: Afraid to ask: How many pies do you bake on Thanksgiving? How do you get through it?
CP: We did 1,000 pre-ordered pies last year. This year will be more. We make it fun. I bring in pizza. It’s around the clock for three days. But it’s the most joyous three days because when the door closes on Thanksgiving Day and you’ve been able to facilitate 1,000 pies, there are high fives and hugs.
SM: How do you make PiesCream, your new line of pie-infused ice creams?
CP: We use a prepackaged base and churn in house using huge slices of our most popular pies—crust, filling, crumble and all. We have four flavors: bourbon butterscotch, spiced apple pie with cardamom, Blue Hawaiian (blueberries and pineapple with toasted coconut crumble) and Holiday Pumpkin.
SM: Finally: What, pray tell, is a PieFry?
CP: We take all the little scraps of dough that are left over and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and bake them for 10 minutes. It’s like pie biscotti. One of our savory varieties is pie crust sprinkled with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. They’re amazing.