Rockford Rocked Interviews: Talking pie and records with Kate Sullivan and Stu Patterson of Kate’s Pie Shop and Record Store
By Todd Houston
Kate’s Pie Shop and Record Store is owned by Kate Sullivan and Stu Patterson and is at 6685 E. State St., within the East Branch Library.
Rockford Rocked Interviews (RRI): Kate, first off, let’s start with your culinary background and when did you discover you had a passion for baking?
Kate Sullivan (Kate): I had more of a passion for eating. I had a few special talents with a few recipes — my salsa, marinating sauces, nothing too spectacular. I started baking pies on a dare. I began “the pie quest,” trying to bake a pie from scratch (365 pies, to be exact). But, as I was baking and tweaking recipes, I discovered I was truly in love with the whole process.
RRI: Stu, I have spoken to a few people around town and they tell me you have quite the vinyl record collection! When did you start collecting and what are some of your favorite albums of all time?
Stu Patterson (Stu): I bought my first album (American Graffiti soundtrack) at age 10. My favorite albums? Depends on what day it is. I would say: X, Wild Gift; The Clash, Sandinista; and Aerosmith, Rocks.
RRI: Whose idea was it to combine these two round things?
Kate: That would be me.
Stu: It’s all her fault.
Kate: It all kind of just fell into place. We’d been talking about a record store for some time. I mean, Stu has that knowledge of music you can expect from a specialty record shop. One such conversation happened while I was working on another dough recipe, and we were discussing how we should combined it with, oh, I don’t know a bar or coffee shop … we just had one of those “slap to the forehead” moments, followed by, “Shut your pie hole”!
RRI: Kate, when I spoke with you two at the Midtown Market, you told me that you were about a year from having your own store front.
Kate: Yes, and now we are inside the East Branch Library (6685 E. State St., next to Perkin’s), and things couldn’t be better! Love it!
RRI: Kate, I’ve noticed that you do a lot of special orders! Granny had her famous Opossum pie. What’s the strangest pie ingredient combination that you have ever had?
Kate: Well, I have pretty straightforward requests, but I try to invent stuff on my own. I had an epic fails with a few things, like the Pineapple Ricotta pie!
Stu: It wasn’t bad … it was edible, just kind of gross.
Kate: I still ask folks to send me their request!
RRI: Stu, it seems that in the last 10 years or so, vinyl records have made a huge comeback. I, for one, miss looking at the artwork on the covers and reading the liner notes. Do you think the younger (digital-age) kids are missing out?
Stu: Yes. Basically, it comes down to this: you can’t hold an MP3 file in your hand. The sound quality of a compressed music file is highly inferior. Kids like the records for the “retro” interest and subsequently discovered the sound quality is better. For us, records never went away.
RRI: Kate, most pies you have ever baked in a 12-hour period?
Kate: I made 47 pies on my first full day baking for the markets, and darned near killed myself. I am comfortable baking 35 pies, on average. My days in the kitchen are 12 to 14 hours long. Quality before quantity.
RRI: Stu, what is the rarest and most sought-after record in your collection?
Stu: Good question. I never bought records because they were collectibles, I buy records because I like the music or the artist somehow intrigues me. That being said, I have a lot of punk records from the 1970s and early ’80s that have increased in value over the years — early L.A. punk, Weirdos, Danger House records, Australian punk rock, Radios Appear by Radio Birdman, etc.
RRI: Kate, it seems like downtown Rockford is trying to make a comeback, especially with the small storefront shops popping up recently. What are your thoughts?
Kate: I couldn’t be more thrilled! I have always been a huge supporter of the downtown. The powers that be seem to have held back on the gentrification in years past, but it’s nice to see things have changed. There is more community support for creating a cultural center in our downtown. Our city deserves more art, music and hip places to hang out, and it needs to be in the heart of the city.
RRI: Stu, do you have a list of vinyl records we can shop from? Website?
Stu: Not yet. We are still in the process of collecting. We will specialize in punk rock from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, rockabilly, vintage country and soul.
Kate: We would like to encourage any music lovers out there to call or write us for donating their collections.
RRI: I’m going to say a word or phrase, and you say the first thing that pops into your head! Ready? iTunes equals…
Stu: A necessary evil.
RRI: Shepherd’s pie equals …
Kate: Bad English teeth (laughs).
RRI: Please, Please Me by The Beatles (first pressing vinyl) equals …
Stu: Sure, why not?
RRI: Gordon Ramsay equals …
RRI: Hipgnosis album cover art equals …
Stu: Scorpions’ Virgin Killer.
Kate: Cupcake Wars equals …
Stu: Bring it!
RRI: Pie equals …
Kate: It’s the new cake!
From the Oct. 15-21, 2014, issue