Saige Anderson, manager and baker at Honey Pies, is a welcome addition to Little Rock’s culinary scene. You may have already indulged in a delicious, gooey pie from this sweet little shop, but let’s take a moment to learn about one of the members that helps create all of those delights.
Growing up, Anderson lived part-time in Hawaii and part-time in New Mexico. Nearly 10 years ago her family returned to North Little Rock where they were originally from. Her grandmother operated The Brown Bagger bakery in downtown Hot Springs during the 70s and 80s.
At the age of 16, Anderson became interested in cooking and baking. “My grandmother always told me to stay away from the food industry after she had worked in it for so long,” she discloses. “I started doing cakes and building up baking, then went to culinary school at Pulaski Tech when I was 18 and started on savory.”
Culinary school provided insight to the real world for Anderson.
“I went before the school opened the new building, during the last semester or two,” Anderson recounts. “We were in a hallway with 20 to 25 other students and 15 students’ worth of equipment and ingredients. It was very life-like to the job, and a lot of fun.”
Following her educational vocation, Anderson worked at the Capital Hotel as the overnight baker for a year and a half — a reputable jumpstart to her career.
August marks one year since Anderson joined the team at Honey Pies. “I came here after my grandfather read about it opening,” Saige reflects, “there were only a couple of pies on the shelf. They’d been slammed the entire day. (Owners Lance and Sharon Woodson) Mentioned they were hard-pressed to get all the pies out. And my grandmother volunteered me into the position. That’s how I got the job.”
Anderson ambitiously endured the Thanksgiving rush, a first for the bakery. “It was pretty crazy,” she recalls. “The year before, Sharon was operating solo from her home, she did 30 pies. This year we did 600, just for the week of Thanksgiving.”
These days, Honey Pies continues to keep pace with the current demand. As such, Anderson has taken on more responsibility since starting with the bakery. Day-to-day, her responsibilities include making sure the pie case is stocked, making sure they have a good backstock on pies for the next couple days with cakes and cupcakes, and monitoring and managing our wholesale accounts.
Local wholesale accounts include Big Orange and Local Lime. Anderson is also responsible for coming up with new monthly ideas for them. They ship out roughly 50-60 pies per week.
“For Big Orange, we’ve got the Possum Pie — our Butter Crust with Cream Cheese and Pecans spread on the bottom. Then a Chocolate Cream topped with a toasted meringue.” She continues, “For Local Lime, they get Key Lime desserts, Tres Leches Cake and a Chocolate and Caramel tart.”
Anderson says most of the recipes that she works on tends to go to the wholesale accounts. However, notable contributions she has made to the bakery include Cheesecake and an update to the Peanut Butter Pie recipe, which you can select fresh from the counter.
Additional plans for the bakery include offering more breakfast items and an eventual expansion, which Anderson says will happen soon, hopefully by the end of the summer.
“We’re doing more breakfast items. We have savory hand pies. We’re going to eventually be getting biscuits and gravy.” Anderson continues, “Eventually, when we open the other side, we want to do light lunches, sandwiches and soups.”
Speaking of desserts, that’s one of many of Anderson’s passions.
When she gets the chance, Anderson loves making entremets, “Which are basically, really fancy mousse cakes. Layered with some type of sponge cake, a mousse and a jelly … topped with a glaze. It’s very time consuming and has a lot of different flavors and textures.” Too time consuming to make at Honey Pies.
Anderson has lived in Central Arkansas long enough to note the rapidly changing food scene. And the Little Rock food scene seems to be expanding rapidly with women that are pioneers in the industry. Anderson can’t help but get excited as she says,“We have people like Amanda Ivy, Sharon Woodson, Mindy Mitchell, Sammy Cyz, and other awesome females in the industry,” she continues, “It’s all very supportive.”
As far as her take on the Little Rock food scene, Anderson says, “It’s getting better. It’s miles above five or even ten years ago. But, I do think it has more potential to push the envelope.” She offers, “Higher-end bakeries and patisseries. And on the savory side, delving more into specialty-only and charcuterie-only would be really nice.”
When not working, you might catch Anderson exploring the local food scene as she exclaims, “I always want to try new places when they open … The Pantry and The Root are my two favorites of all time.” Otherwise, she’s likely to be reading or playing video games.
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, be sure to put in your pie orders early. Orders close a couple days before the holiday. Whole pies run $24 and mini pies are $5 each. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Key Lime pies are Anderson’s favorites. But don’t miss out on her Blueberry Cheesecake, and give the Coconut Cream, Possum and Apple Pies a try. And don’t forget to say ‘hi’ to her when you stop by.