It’s 9 a.m. on March 5, a Wednesday. Beth Kellerhals, the chef of the Pie Hole, had that day off. She parked her dark grey Volvo in front of the Europane Bakery on East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, Calif. She left the window of the front passenger seat open so that her dog Lady Edith, a border terrier, could enjoy the breeze of a sunny spring day.
Kellerhals started her job at the Pie Hole right before Christmas in 2012. The Pie Hole is a family-owned café in L.A. Their first location is in the Arts district. On March 6, they opened another store in Old Town Pasadena. As a chef, Kellerhals said that her life has been always around food. She loves to try different cusines. She feels happy and relaxed when she is in her food journey.
Kellerhals grew up in Barlett, a suburb west of downtown Chicago. In her family, food plays an important role. Kellerhals said that all of her aunts were good at cooking and baking. One of her uncles also had a butcher shop for a long time. “I would always plan my day around food,” said Kellerhals. “I would be really mad if I got home from school and my mom wasn’t making something that I thought was delicious.”
Because of her family, Kellerhals started to cook and bake in an early age.
Kellerhals is a foodie. Her taste buds welcome food from various cultures. It was two decades ago, when Kellerhals was still a college student. She went to a Chinese restaurant in Chicago and fell in love with those dishes because they were very different from food that she grew up with.
Kellerhals said that she was fascinated about the long history in China. But it was a Chinese movie Raise the Red Lantern that she decided to move to northern part of China in 1999 for two years. Kellerhals is a fan of the history of northern China. It was where the story in the movie happened.
Kellerhals missed the street food in China. She said that she was brave to try anything when she was in China. Exploring food in China was an inspiration to Kellerhals.
“I learned a lot about tea in China,” said Kellerhals. “I love to put Chinese seasonings when I am cooking and making ice cream.”
In the future, Kellerhals would like to bring Chinese elements to the Pie Hole, such as Beijing meat pies and Sichuan pepper ice cream that can go with pies in the cafe.
In Sept. 2007, Kellerhals moved to L.A., a city that never short of sunshine. In her past experience, living in the north in both China and the States, Kellerhals has had enough of the winters.
“At that point of life, I had a lot of friends who lived in L.A.” “So I already had a great built-in support group here.”
Kellerhals got involved with the Pie Hole because of a former co-worker. He was a regular customer, who later built a friendship with co-owners of the Pie Hole.
“I love the community that the Pie Hole brought to their customers,” said Kellerhals.
Kellerhals always talks to the customers when she visits the café. To her, the work at the Pie Hole brings laughter to her life.
Kellerhals is friends with a lot of regular customers, but she doesn’t know all of their names.
“I know Cinnamon,” said Kellerhals.
Cinnamon was a dog of a couple. They always came and spent some time in the Pie Hole. What made Kellerhals laugh was they never know the names of the couple.
“Everyone in the Pie Hole knows their dogs name,” Kellerhals said. “We all greeted her dog when they came.”
The customers always surprise Kellerhals. At 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving in 2013, people were lining up in front of the Pie Hole to get a whole pie.
“It just brought me and the whole kitchen a lot of joy to know that people were so dedicated that they were willing to wake up early and come and stand in line, ” said Kellerhals.
Although Kellerhals didn’t sleep for two days before Thanksgiving, she said that the smiles on customers’ faces were the best motivation.