The Bay Area has a lot going for it. Our summer lasts longer than most, fresh produce and farmers markets abound, and around every corner there’s something interesting going on—from museums to music festivals to a new hike or a scenic drive. The local food community is fiercely supportive, and small businesses and food trucks are popping up in neighborhoods all around San Francisco and the East Bay. Jaynelle St. Jean, owner of Oakland’s sweetest pie window Pietisserie, and Gillian Shaw of Black Jet Bakery are among those businesses.
St. Jean started baking in high school, but never thought she’d actually have a business featuring pie. And she didn’t necessarily set out to do so, either. One day, she decided to give pie away out of the window of her mom’s house in San Francisco: “I dressed up the window with striped curtains and I served pie by the slice to anyone walking by on a glass plate—the point was that I’d get to meet them and they’d stay there. People loved it. I loved it.”
After moving around to a number of commercial kitchens and locations to sell her pies (St. Jean even does “Random Acts of Sweetness,” showing up unexpectedly at parks and street corners to give away slices), she has slowly become known as “the pie lady” and is constantly thinking about how to grow the little pie window from its Friday home in Old Oakland’s Swan Market to a bigger, more permanent home.
“I think that what I found is that pie does for other people exactly what it does for me. It’s about what it represents– about sustenance,” St. Jean says. “I used to be a legal assistant. I used to do a lot of thing, actually. But now, at the end of the day I make pie. It makes people happy. I get psyched about how I can impact people’s day and mood.”