by Kristina Rivera
March 14 is Pi Day, and at Intentionalist, we firmly believe the world would be a better place if all math were accompanied by dessert.
The first Pi Day (also Einstein’s birthday) was celebrated by physicist Larry Shaw in 1988 because the date, 3/14, represents the first three digits of the famous number pi π, a mathematical constant whose decimal form never ends or becomes repetitive. Shaw rang in the first holiday at the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum in San Francisco, where festivities included a circular parade and the enjoyment of fruit pies.
In 2009, the House of Representatives passed legislation for Pi Day to officially become a holiday, and local restaurants and bakeries alike have been ins-pie-red to celebrate it ever since.
For Pi Day — which can be every day if you really believe — here are three Seattle spots to celebrate and grab a slice:
Hood Famous Cafe + Bar
Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen opened their first brick-and-mortar Hood Famous location in 2016, building on the love they received from their community as local chefs. It all began with a pop-up Filipino dinner series Chera and Geo started in 2013 called Food & Sh*t. They served five-course meals featuring Filipino and Asian-Pacific flavors, including their now iconic ube cheesecake. The cheesecake became so famous in their neighborhood it eventually inspired the couple to start Hood Famous. Chera and Geo opened Hood Famous’s first location in Ballard and their second location, Hood Famous Cafe + Bar, in the International District in 2019.
The Buko pie at Hood Famous is a must-have treat for Pi Day. Buko (which means young coconut in Tagalog) pie is filled with a silky, shredded coconut custard and topped with a brown sugar streusel all on a flaky crust. The dessert’s origin traces back to Soledad Pahud, a Filipino immigrant living in the U.S. who learned how to bake apple pie while working as a maid. When she moved back to the Philippines, she missed having apple pie, so she recreated it using the ingredients she had available to her and swapped the apples for coconuts.
“My favorite part [about the International District] is the community that we have. There’s a lot of folks that care really really deeply about the neighborhood. … I think that power in community and people collaborating and really caring so deeply about the history of the neighborhood and what it represents — people see themselves reflected in the neighborhood. It’s an opportunity to share culture.”
— Chera Amlag
Simply Soulful’s roots began with a sweet potato pie recipe that’s been in Barbara Collins and Lillian Rambus’ family for generations. The mother-daughter duo opened their soul food restaurant, Simply Soulful, in the Central District in 2014 serving family recipes with an emphasis on using fresh ingredients. Though every dish at their restaurant is simply delicious, their sweet potato pie is their crowning glory. Barbara and Lillian learned how to make their pie recipe from Lillian’s grandmother, Elizabeth Hammond, who grew up in Mississippi and moved to Spokane in 1967. What makes Simply Soulful’s sweet potato pie so special is it doesn’t have the traditional spices — cinnamon and nutmeg — and instead has a unique and fresh citrus flavor to it.
Simply Soulful’s seven-year anniversary falls on Pi Day, so it’s only fitting to get a slice of their sweet potato pie to celebrate. In addition, Lillian and Barbara are in the process of relocating Simply Soulful to a bigger space at the corner of 23rd & Jackson. You can help support their transition by donating to their crowdfunding campaign.
“Being in a community where we’re a Black business in a neighborhood that’s been gentrified and historically has been redlined — it was a Black community, so it’s good to be in [the Central District]. There’s a lot of history there, and things have changed so much, so for us to be in that neighborhood, it just gives you a sense of pride.” — Lillian Rambus
Beach Bakery owner Amy O’Connell has a passion for two things: community and butter. Amy runs Beach Bakery in Rainier Beach where she sells a variety of baked goods from sweet to savory. She grew up baking cakes and pies with her grandmother as a hobby, including a phenomenal carrot cake you can try at the bakery today. Amy always knew she wanted to open her own business and has worked as a pastry chef in the food industry for years, so opening Beach Bakery in 2016 a mile from where she grew up in Rainier Beach was only natural. Beach Bakery is a reflection of the Rainier Beach community — the inside is unpretentious but full of character. The made-from-scratch pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies use simple, local ingredients that Amy lets speak for themselves, resulting in some seriously good baked goods.
The bakery is typically closed on Sundays, so Beach Bakery is offering individual apple pies with a streusel topping and rhubarb pies today, March 13, to celebrate Pi Day.
“[Rainier Beach] is the most diverse, amazing, and unique culture in the country, I think. It’s just an unbelievable gathering of so many different people from so many different nations, and there’s so much amazing food. We are just in an unbelievable community. We support each other and we love each other. It’s so unique with all the different communities to get involved with down here.”
— Amy O’Connell
Kristina Rivera is the marketing and communications coordinator at Intentionalist. She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in journalism and public relations and has worked with organizations ranging from local nonprofits to global PR firms.
Featured image: A slice of Buko pie from Hood Famous Cafe + Bar. (Photo courtesy of Hood Famous)
Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With around 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible.
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn’t have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference.
We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!