Having baked some of the best pastries in the country for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Bill Yosses didn’t know he’d be famous for baking “the worst pies in London.”
But in fact, his years as the White House Pastry Chef from 2007–2014 provided Yosses the time to perfect his pie-baking. “Both presidents, I always say, may not agree on anything except dessert,” says Yosses. “They love American classic dessert, mostly pies. That would be their favorite. That launched me on a whole pie research mission for eight years.”
Which is why when he returned to New York City after his time Washington, D.C., Yosses opened his own pie shop called Perfect Pie in Long Island City. “We make pies overnight and send them all over the country. In America, you don’t usually hear of a pie shop, you hear of a pastry shop, a bakery, a sweet shop, but I called it a pie shop and I think that’s what caught [producer] Rachel [Edwards’] eye.” Edwards and team were looking for a baker to serve up traditional English meat pies and mash as pre-show fare for a new production of Sweeney Todd in the Barrow Street Theatre-turned-pie shop—a riff on the storefront where Sweeney’s Mrs. Lovett bakes the Demon Barber’s victims into meat pies.
“I must say, I did not leap at the chance at first because I had just started this business and I didn’t know if I really wanted to be typecast as cooking humans,” says Yosses. But the team wooed him and Yosses became the official pie baker for Off-Broadway’s Sweeney Todd in the redesigned downtown venue, modeled after Harrington’s Pie Shop in London—where the immersive show first began.
“I did the research. I went to London, I went to [the real] Harrington’s, met the piemaker there, Dave, a charming fellow,” says Yosses. “I worked for the producers on how could that be adapted for an American New York audience.” Yosses’ variation includes the addition of a veggie pie option (“You can’t not have vegetarian these days in New York, even for something that Sweeney Todd makes”), but kept to the traditional English rectangular shape. This winter, Yosses and the team offer special holiday pies, like the turkey squab Thanksgiving Pie & Galette he bakes in the video above and the beef chanterelle Holiday Pie & Mash.
And Yosses is the one to serve them up “piping hot” to audiences before every single show. “I’ve missed two or three in the nine months we’ve been here. It wasn’t arranged that way but I look at it this way: When I was in the restaurant business the service started at 5:30 PM and ended at 2:30 AM; this service is 45 minutes,” he says. “I get to meet the people and be Mrs. Lovett before Mrs. Lovett comes out here.”
For more information and to order your pie & mash with your ticket to Sweeney Todd, click here.