A couple of months ago, I was on Chicago's brown line, traveling to the Music Box Theatre for a reading and book-signing by Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors and one of my favorite memoirists. Holding his book in my hand to be signed, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The inquiring woman asked if I was going to see Austen speak, and we quickly sparked a conversation about literature and writing. After sitting together for the duration of the reading, I quickly became friends with the woman, Hannah Paster, a Columbia College student and avid pie enthusiast.

After chatting with Paster for well over an hour, I learned about Paster's passion for pie and quickly scheduled a lunch date.

Fascinated by Paster's devotion to the culinary world and her simultaneous maintenance of her academics as a senior at Columbia College, I soon learned the story of Paster's relationship with pie and what she is planning for the years to come.

Beauty is in the Pie of the Beholder

When asked about the moment— or rather the specific pie that initiated her into the world of pie devotion— Paster launched into a detailed tale of her first pie love, a peach and blackberry crumble pie at Proper Pie Co. in Richmond, Virginia. 

It was 7:00pm, nearing Proper Pie's closing time, and it was raining outside. Paster, a sophomore in high school, took one bite of the peach and blackberry concoction, and it was love at first taste. Suddenly, like all first kisses, she was motivated to replicate the moment.

"I knew I wanted to recreate it and do the same thing," she said. With one taste of pie, Paster knew that she wanted to work with food, and more specifically pie, in her future endeavors.

Bit Pie Bit

Fast-forwarding a few years, Paster began attending Columbia College in Chicago as a theatre major. Nevertheless, despite being plagued by the stresses and anxieties of college, Paster maintained her desire to work with food. 

She became a barista at The Eastman Egg Company, worked for the gourmet popsicle company King of Pops, and was hired as a kitchen staff member at the Michelin Star Elizabeth Restaurant. Through these experiences, Paster was introduced to unusual gourmet food, obscure and delicious flavors, and new culinary techniques that she put to the test in her own kitchen. 

A Piece of the Pie 

Brock Colyar

When Paster decided that theatre was not meant to be a part of her future, she changed her major to Television, Internet and Mobile Media. Soon after, she combined her new career path with her love for food, taking over the social media accounts for Eastman Egg.

Her new job, however, did not satisfy her appetite for pie and inventing new, creative recipes. Paster began photographing her own pies and posting them to her Instagram. She also began a pie-centric Youtube channel, featuring her friends telling stories that make them smile and, of course, enjoying a piece of pie. 

Today, Paster says that she would like to better incorporate her major into her work, and manage the social media for a restaurant in which she truly believes. Meanwhile, she has begun selling pastries to a few restaurants in Chicago and has been hired for a few catering opportunities. She has also created a menu on her phone for the pies and baked goods she would like to professionally sell in the future, which will most definitely include a "biscuit to make mom proud."

Furthermore, to add to her growing list of successes, Paster was celebrated as a semifinalist in last year's Bucktown Pie Festival for her apple pie, which she describes as "the bee's knees."

Eyes on the Pies

Looking to the time after her graduation, Paster is optimistic about the places she will go through food, social media and pie. A huge advocate of things happening "in-time," Paster stresses the importance of patience and being satisfied with the current moment. 

She continually asks herself, "Hey Hannah! Are you going to die from this?" 

The answer being "no," she sits back, smiles, takes another bite of her favorite Lemon Shaker pie from Spinning J, and keeps moving forward to achieve her dreams. 

As Paster moves closer and closer to the pie in the sky, she reflects on the sanctity of food and its friendship-building potential. For Paster, food encourages community. Food brings people together. Food allows two strangers who met on the Chicago Brown Line to sit down, discuss every topic that comes to their mind, and create an unforgettable friendship.