Discovery: Lattice and Lard

Home-ec teachers, prepare to be schooled. Kyle Harrell and Tracy Wojtas of retro-rad pie company Lattice & Lard are giving traditional, window ledge–worthy recipes delicious makeovers with flaky-crusted hits like bourbon-bacon-pecan, blueberry-basil, and apple with applewood-smoked bacon. The couple has years of restaurant experience but no formal culinary training, having met as servers at the restaurant inside Trader’s Point Creamery and embarked on their own pie-making adventure when the house baker quit. “We thought we could figure out how to do it ourselves,” says Harrell.

He was right. With the support of their bosses, they baked, tweaked, and sampled until everyone was happy. Lattice & Lard pies eventually made their way to the cooling racks at such culinary powerhouses as Goose the Market and Wildwood Market, and the couple now divide their time between working day jobs at Bluebeard, raising their daughter, and filling holiday pie orders. Through it all, they have maintained a divide-and-conquer approach to creativity: He brainstorms flavor combinations and sources ingredients while she works on the perfect piecrust. The secret: lard, an ingredient legendary for imparting flakiness and a smooth flavor. (Lard is also in the midst of a comeback, thanks to reverent chefs and a renewed respect for the ingredient, which is lower in saturated fat than butter and free of trans fats.) Wojtas says some of her most vocal supporters are older customers who remember the good old days before lard got a bad name. “When someone tells me this reminds them of their childhood, it makes me feel good,” she says.