in the kitchen with kandis smith

in the kitchen is a new series i've been wanting to start for a while. the local food industry is full of creative individuals making incredible and beautiful things. it's time to let those chefs, mixologists, bakers, makers and doers tell the stories behind the menu items you know them for. i'm just here to illustrate. 

this inaugural in the kitchen post is written by kandis smith, baker at little red fox; titled "if patrick bateman was a baker."

Mondays are not a typical day for me. It is the only day of the week that we are closed, but I still work. I get the entire kitchen (including the dish pit) all to myself. I look forward to the incredibly calming, creative space every week. It is also the day I get the spend the most time making/decorating pies. I arrive to the kitchen anywhere between 10am and 1pm depending on the day (or the night before). Turn on the lights. Turn on the ovens. Make quart container of cold brew. Contain hair. Find apron and towels. Put Pandora on shuffle. Ready, go.

I know I'm going to be making pies so the first thing I do is pull the pie dough from the walk in and let it temp while I assess the list Lauren leaves for me of everything I need to do. I just stare at it for a solid 5 minutes like a creep thinking of how I'm going to arrange my day. When I'm going to prep what, when I'm going to weigh my dries, when I'm going to mix what, when I'm going to bake what and will I have enough time to let it cool so I can wrap it before I leave?

In addition to making 10-20 pies, I'm prepping things for the start of our week, cookie doughs, carmelitas, quick breads, etc. I'm forming a strategic plan for how I'm going to get all of this done in the most effective, efficient way possible while also leaving myself enough time to have the mental freedom I want when it comes time to decorate the pies. I hate feeling rushed, especially when it comes to decorating, because it is my favorite part of my favorite day and if I don't get that satisfying creative outlet, I'll be fucking dead inside for the rest of the week (or until I get to decorate another pie).

For this reason, I usually go against my strategic kitchen instincts here and save the pies for last so they are the only thing I have to focus on and I can make them perfect. I let them cool while I do the dishes and clean up. I roll out the pie dough that has been patiently temping while I've been insanely staring at a list on a wall thinking about how and when I'm going to make brownies and rice krispies in the same day in the same pan. I always roll out my pie dough first, crusts, tops, and sheets for cutting out decorations. It takes up the most time, it's repetitive, and not the most fun thing to do (but still pretty fun) and I just want to get it done and out of the way so it is ready and waiting for me when the time comes. Then I start on the rest of my list. 

Once I'm done with the rest of my list and ready to get my pie on, I pull my sheets of dough from the walk in. They are nice and chilled and the perfect temperature for cutting, cold but still pliable. Unless I have a specific idea of inspiration, an image or a phrase that I want to try, most of the time I have no idea how the pies are going to look before I start cutting into the dough. Most of the time I'm just cutting out shapes and adding textures to them. I get inspired as I go along and the shapes become more intentional and coherent. Once I've exhausted every last inch of available pie dough (because what if that one last shape I cut out of that one last little corner is THE shape that I need to make the pie perfect???!?) I spread them all out in front of me along with the pies and start piecing them together. Adding things, taking them away, moving them around.

Sometimes this is so easy it's scary and sometimes I hate everything and want to start all over and I chastise myself for making so many leaves when YOU KNEW YOU DIDN'T NEED THAT MANY LEAVES KANDIS YOU COULD HAVE SWITCHED IT UP DAMN. I keep going until the pies looks "right". Then I take my favorites to the communal table at the front of the shop, next to the giant window that overlooks the street, and proceed with my Instagram photoshoot. I take about 100 pictures of each pie even though the first one is almost always the best. So if you're walking down Connecticut Ave at 10pm on a Monday night and you see a girl dressed in all black, standing on a stool inside Little Red Fox with an iPhone, don't call the cops, it's just me.