Social media led me to Lauren Ko months ago. I found her beautiful instagram account @lokokitchen and instantly fell for her incredibly stunning pie art and her hilarious puntastic captions, a follow was a no-brainer. Clearly, I was not alone. Lauren’s instagram account (with just 50 photos on it) has skyrocketed to almost 130K followers in less than a year. By some crazy happy social magic Lauren followed my account back and over time it became clear there was a mutual respect for one another’s craft. Lucky for me, she’s here in Seattle and she was sweet enough to let me interview her and talk all about pie-making and her new-found creative journey.
When did you first get into baking? What drew you to pies specifically?
My grandma and mom are both amazing cooks and bakers, so I grew up either in the kitchen observing or helping to stir the odd mixing bowl here and there. It feels like I’ve been cooking and baking in some form my whole life. But as for pies, they’re a total accident! I was newly relocated to Seattle in August of 2016, was job hunting, and had some extra time on my hands. I had seen some pictures of pretty pies on Pinterest and wondered if I could try my hand at one, never having made a pie before. The plaid lattice pie on my feed was the first one I made!
Do you have a favorite pie ingredient to work with? What’s the most unusual combination of flavors that you’ve made and enjoyed?
I should probably say butter since I blaze through it like nobody’s business and it’s really the stuff that makes magic happen. There is a miso white carrot pie with a black sesame crust in my feed that was a total experiment. I was apprehensive to taste test it, but ended up being pleasantly surprised! The flavor was really interesting–like a slightly savory cheesecake. It was creamy and not too sweet, and definitely a filling I’ll make again!
Your pies are works of art and your captions are punderful in the best possible way. Where does your inspiration spring from? Did you have any training in the kitchen, or study design or creative writing?
Design-wise, I’m drawn to color and geometric patterns. I’m inspired by textiles, architecture, string art, and all things bright and colorful. Jokes-wise, my husband has a very witty and often cheesy sense of humor. So after 11 years together, I think my humor has taken on a similar feel. (I write my own jokes though! 🙂 ) I have no professional pastry, culinary, or design training, but have always been interested in food, art, and writing. This is has been such a fun way to combine all those!
Social media has become a really interesting space for connection (it’s how we met!). How has this sudden influx of followers effected you? I imagine it can’t be all fun all the time. What do your friends and family think of it all?
This whole journey has been completely unexpected and mind-blowing. I had no intentions of pursuing anything when I started the @lokokitchen Instagram account, but it’s really changed my life! It’s all been mostly positive but definitely a bit overwhelming. I have a hard time staying on top of messages and emails, but I really cannot complain. It’s been a blast. My friends and family are super excited! It’s been so fun connecting and re-connecting with so many people, who are just as surprised to see this thing blow up and have been reaching out to be like, whaaaaaaat is happening?!
Here in Seattle we have some awesome dessert spots. Do you have some local favorites that delight your sweet tooth when you’re not baking?
You know, I don’t really have a huge sweet tooth, ironically. I could eat savory snacks all day long but only occasionally crave desserts. That said, I can never pass up the Brown Butter Brown Sugar Bourbon Spice cookie from Pinckney’s or the Oddfellows cookie at Oddfellows. (I do wish there were more donut and churro options here. Those are definitely my go-to sweet treats!)
You recently left your full time gig to pursue this pie thing further, what’s on the horizon for you that you’re excited about?
I’m so excited about all the opportunities that have popped up. I’ve scheduled a few pie design workshops around town in the next couple months, and am really looking forward to those! Keep an eye on my website for details on when, where, and how to snag a ticket!