Profiles: Public Pie – Fresh pie with warm buttocks

Written by: Mirla Klijn
Public Pie is a mobile kitchen, designed by love couple Maaike and Jadidja. They’re passionate about beautiful products, like cleverly baked apple pies you can eat with one hand. You can find them at different Dutch festivals like Into the Great Wide Open and Here Comes the Summer.

Their search for a location for Public Pie started in 2013 in the Italian Dolomites. Their dream was opening their own business in a mountain cabin. After gaining lots of work experience at organic farms they returned to the Netherlands because of the economic crisis. They found their ‘basecamp’ in the centre of Tilburg. Unfortunately they have no mountains surrounding them, but they do have beautiful local products.

Why is your focus on pie? And how did you come up with the pay-off: ‘Fresh pie with warm buttocks’?
I used to work in catering as a side job when I was studying and working as a designer. I found food interesting and I was often asked to create and prepare something for exhibitions. At a certain point I was asked to think of something for the Dutch Design Week, that always takes place at the end of October in Eindhoven. I was searching for local products that were in season and I found this wonderful apple grower on the outskirts of the city. I thought: apple pie, it’s simple and it smells nice, so you have this sensorial experience as well. Also it’s nice to create a break for people during the Dutch Design Week, because they walk a lot. And that’s how we thought of the concept to have people sit on the oven. Nice warm buttocks and a moment to relax! So you get seat heating with your apple pie.
A couple of years later the food truck hype and festivals arose. That’s when I started baking on a much larger scale and we needed to change the setting. So we created a small mobile baking house. That’s how it all started actually.

Where do you get the most satisfaction from?

The strength of Public Pie has to be the theatrical aspect. Creativity is key. We want to create something with a story and interaction is a very important part of it. We get a lot of compliments from people about the fact that they not only can get pie from us but also warm buttocks. And the apple peeling chair that you can see from afar is a real hit. These creative designs pull people in without you having to shout that you have the most amazing pie.

Does baking pies pay the bills?

Let’s put it this way: it’s the pay of a part time job but the work of a fulltime job. And the risks are quiet high for the money you make. I often ask other food truck people how they do it. Often times they run a permanent location as well. So supplying their food truck is easier. But I deliberately keep it small and that has its advantages too, because I’m flexible now and I don’t have to keep a place running constantly.

And now the terrible question: how is everything in times of corona?

The festival season of course was cancelled. And there’s very little to do this year. But it’s kind of nice as well. Now there’s more time for hobbies like gardening and baking sour dough bread. Normally that’s impossible, because we can’t find a rhythm, as we’re gone all the time.
This is also a good time to think ahead. We don’t want to do just anything. Sometimes at festivals I would look around and see all these people just binging something we made with so much love. It made me wonder about the spoiled world we live in. It would be a good thing if we would deal with food with more respect and consciousness.

What would you recommend starting entrepreneurs that want to run their own food truck or a business. What are the pitfalls?

We grew very organic, so a lot of things fell in to place by themselves and it was one big learning process. But my most important advice is: keep it simple, don’t offer to many different things. I often think of this man in Tilburg that sells Persian ice cream and the calmness he has while making it with his rose water and grated pistachio… So simple and so beautiful. And when you want to do something like this, put in the time. Go for it completely, so you develop a routine.

What are your plans for Public Pie?

I still hand out every apple pie with so much love. And even if it’s just a couple of people that receive it in that way, that would make me happy. But the dream is still selling pies made with local ingredients and good coffee on a beautiful location and preferably in a setting that encourages a moment of relaxation. Somewhere in the Dolomites or Tilburg.

Website: Publicpie.nl
Instagram: publicpie

Written by: Mirla Klijn
Translation by: Renée ter Berg

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