Food & Wine // 4 min Read

The Pie Aficionado

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Oct 05, 2015

Every apple season my parents would drive to the local farm stands of New Jersey, buy some fresh apples and make their delicious pie. My mom would cut the apples, and my dad would get to work crafting the pastry.

“I was one of seven kids, so I suppose they were just looking for an activity they could do together, just the two of them. I found it fascinating to watch. Try as I might, even after 40 years, I have never quite been able to make a pie like my parents’ apple pie.”

But Ken Haedrich’s quest to recreate his parents’ apple pie and their pie-making experience led to The Pie Academy. His website is like no other internet cooking forum. Although this Lowcountry resident (his home is on Hilton Head Island) has written 12 award-winning cookbooks and hundreds of magazine articles, lectured at the Smithsonian, appeared on a multitude of television shows including Good Morning America, and demonstrated cooking to live studio audiences across the country, Haedrich is most passionate about pie and his latest venture, The Pie Academy.

The Pie Academy is a comprehensive online resource and education center dedicated to the art of making pies. With a community of over 2,000 pie devotees, The Pie Academy’s success lies in its appeal to bakers of all skill levels. “If you are already an experienced pie-maker, you will be at home at The Pie Academy. More important, if you are a beginner and do not know where to start, you will find a welcoming place you can learn.”

Heeding the call to service

Haedrich developed his love of cooking in the last place on earth one would guess: the Navy. “I joined back in 1972 when I was just 17. I lived off base with a bunch of other men. We would divvy up all of the various essential household chores: taking out the garbage, cleaning the dishes, providing the beer and so on. I found myself gravitating toward the kitchen. Someone had to cook! At first I just made basic meals, but I started asking for recipes from the mother of one of my friends in the Navy. It may seem mundane, but using her recipes actually meant a lot to me.” And trading recipes would become the essence of The Pie Academy.

So how did two cooks sharing recipes turn into an online fellowship of over 2,000 people?

“In my twenties, I worked as a cook at a home for abused kids. Like many spiritually-rewarding jobs, the pay was meager. I started writing and self-publishing cookbooks on the side. After awhile, my work began to be picked up by publishers. I began writing for magazines like National Geographic Traveler, Family Fun, Better Homes & Gardens, and Bon Appétit. The problem with writing for print is that the audience is invisible. You cannot share ideas or hear immediately what people would like to know more about. I wanted to get back to the simple connection of two cooks sharing recipes. I wanted to create a community.”

Launched in 2012, The Pie Academy was a way to foster the connections that two cooks can have. Yes, a lot of visitors to the site are seeking simple information about how to make pies, but The Pie Academy provides more than that. It provides a setting where people can feel that they are a part of something. “Sure you can purchase a cookbook and work hard, alone in the kitchen trying to improve your baking, but there is a richer experience to be had at The Pie Academy. Nothing can replace the creative energy of people working together to make something great.”

What does it take to build such a large community?

“One of the things I do, which may sound crazy, is that I answer every email I receive. With such a large following, you can imagine that it takes some time. I spend at least an hour to two hours a day just answering emails. Often I hear people say, ‘I didn’t expect a response!’ But it’s super important. That is how you build relationships with your students and loyalty to the Academy. And one of my greatest pleasures is to hear people’s joy when their pie frustrations are fixed.”

%GALLERY%More than just an online community

In October 2014, The Pie Academy sponsored its first Weekend Pie Getaway. “We rented the historic 1868 Marmaduke Hamilton Estate in Savannah for four days and three nights. Our time was spent on a loose curriculum of hands-on pie-making and baking instruction, along with enjoying the city. People flew in from across the country, and we had a blast. It was wonderful to finally put a face to all the online interactions the academy nurtures.”

Over Thanksgiving Haedrich asked The Pie Academy students to send him photos of their holiday pies with a personal anecdote on what it was like to make the pie. One that Haedrich chose to include in The Pie Academy blog reads: “Amy writes to say that she made two of these pecan pies from her grandma’s Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook from 1960, proof that good taste never goes out of style. She made this pie in her grandma’s kitchen in the family’s farmhouse. Of her grandma, Amy shared, ’She passed away many years ago but I feel her here with me when I bake here. As a girl, she cooked pies in a cook-shack out in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington, starting in about 1915.’”

This is the magic of The Pie Academy. More than just the instructions of a cookbook, it is a place where pie enthusiasts share experiences and craft homemade pies together, just like Haedrich’s parents did back in New Jersey some 40 years ago.

Culture / Day Trips from Palmetto Bluff

Story by Barry Kaufman and Photographs by Lizzy Rollins Just beyond the gates of Palmetto Bluff, at the end of that quiet stretch of trees and sunlight, a solitary strip of pavement beckons. This connective tissue, a tributary, leads off across the great Amer...

Feb 2024
palmetto bluff

Real Estate / Behind the Bluff with Broker-in-Charge W. Bryan Byrne

Bryan’s Journey to Palmetto Bluff Real Estate In this edition of Behind the Bluff, W. Bryan Byrne, the Broker-in-Charge at Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Company, discusses his two-decade journey in the community. His experience has intricately molded the authent...

Jan 2024
real estate in bluffton sc

Real Estate / Lowcountry Housing Trends & Market Updates

Real Estate in Bluffton, SC: Trends, Updates, and Insights Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Lowcountry, is not just a picturesque haven but also a thriving real estate market. As the demand for homes in this charming town continues to grow,...

Jan 2024

Food & Wine / Mocktails from the Palmetto Bluff Club

Rosemary Spice Mocktail Recipe Introducing Buffalos' exquisite Rosemary Spice Mocktail—a meticulously crafted blend that awakens the taste buds with a perfect harmony of bold flavors. Fresh jalapenos are muddled for a subtle spicy kick, while luscious cra...

Jan 2024

Artist in Residence / Painting Wild

Story by Sandy Lang and Photographs by Lawson Builder In early May, The Arts Initiative hosted renowned Lowcountry painter West Fraser as our esteemed Artist In Residence. Throughout his stay, residents were treated to an array of events, including a painting...

Jan 2024
palmetto buff golf course

Sporting Life / Behind the Bluff with the Palmetto Bluff 9-Hole Golf Course Team

All About the New Palmetto Bluff Golf Course Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, a new golfing adventure is taking shape—the Crossroads 9-Hole Golf Course. To delve into the intricacies of this project, we had the opportunity to sit down w...

Dec 2023

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run 2023: A Celebration of Endurance, Nature, and Community

A Recap of the 2034 Buffalo Run The Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, 2023, drawing in a record-breaking crowd of over 500 runners. The event, nestled in the heart of Palmetto Bluff's 20,000 acres of natural sp...

Dec 2023
places to eat near hilton head

Food & Wine / Ask the Locals: Our Favorite Restaurants Near Hilton Head

The 10 Best Places to Eat Near Hilton Head Island Nestled on the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island beckons not only with its pristine beaches but also with a culinary scene that rivals its natural beauty. The Lowcountry, known for breatht...

Dec 2023

Artist in Residence / Journey through Creativity: Palmetto Bluff's 2023 Artist in Residence Highlights

As the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, we are grateful for the creativity that took center stage throughout the year. The 2023 Artist in Residence program has ended, leaving behind a trail of artistic marvels and inspiring stories. F...

Dec 2023

Real Estate / The Builders Behind the Bluff

Meet the Palmetto Bluff Builders Team A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it's where cherished memories are made, and dreams come to life. At Palmetto Bluff, the Palmetto Bluff Builders team designs homes based on your vision.  Allow us to introduc...

Dec 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us