South Side Pie Challenge Encouraged Entrepreneurship

I grew up in a household where sweet potato pie was a staple.

Usually considered a fall pie, that unwritten rule wasn’t observed in my house.  Any time of year was ideal for sweet potato pie—even in the warmer months.

My mother’s recipe—that she got from her mother—-was always done by taste.  There wasn’t a measuring cup or spoon in sight.  She taught what she knew to my sister and I with a few updates for time and convenience.

As a result, I just grew up (with a hat tip to St. Joseph County 4H Club) with cooking and baking.  It just what you did.  You had to have something to offer unexpected guests when they stopped by.  Simply not being prepared wasn’t an option.

After time demands became more pressing, my mother figured out how to freeze her sweet potato pie (crust and all) and take it from freezer to oven to table long before the concept became popular.

I’ve been baking pies, cakes and cookies for a good portion of my life.

So last year, it should not have been a surprise that I finally entered the South Side Pie Challenge.

Co-founded by friend, fellow Chicago Now blogger and south sider Julie Vassilatos; the challenge is entering it’s third year and has a new home at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to take second place in the sweet potato/pumpkin category.  As a result, the news was posted on Facebook.

And that’s when people started wanting me to make pies for them.

And a little pie business was born.

Since then I’ve taken and passed my ServSafe class at the Illinois Restaurant association and received both my State of Illinois Food Service Sanitation and Cook County Food Service Manager licenses.

I can honestly say that starting a small business, especially through the maze of  local and state regulations, is a challenge.  Let’s not even talk about the availability of finding an affordable commercial kitchen on the south side of Chicago.

Not only am I checking tasks (and requirements) off of a heavily researched list, but I’m also going to schedule an appointment with the smart folks at the small business administration.  I need to make sure that I cross my T’s and dot my I’s properly.

There are a great many things not working in my favor for launching a small business but I’m curious to see where this will take me.

After all, everyone has room for pie.


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