Making pierogi is something Erica Pietrzyk has done since she was a kid. Making pierogi was a family activity. Everyone would come over to the house, and the day would be filled with lots of potato peeling, and pierogi stuffing. Frequently this was done around a major holiday, like Christmas or Easter, but sometimes it would be done just because.
So when Pietrzyk was working at a bar, and her patrons wanted food, she knew just what to make.
“I started making pierogi for them because I didn’t know what else I could make,” explains Pietrzyk. “It was really surprising to me, once I started selling them to my friends, that they really loved the fillings. To me it was just my family’s pierogi, I didn’t think it was anything special.”
After a few weeks of doing her family’s traditional fillings - potato and cheese, sauerkraut and bacon, and sauerkraut and mushroom - she started to get creative with her fillings. She made a loaded baked potato pierogi, a Buffalo chicken one, even one with an apple pie filling. She now has over 100 unique recipes.
These one-of-a-kind pierogi gained her a strong following. She started doing pop-ups in other local bars. One of the biggest ones was at Nancy Whiskey’s where she sold out of pierogi in 2 hours. That’s when she knew she had a potential business on her hands.
When the pandemic hit, she started putting more of a focus on getting into the retail market. Pietrzyk Pierogi went from being in 4 local grocery stores to over 20, plus they landed an account with Kroger getting them into over 100.
Today on “Live in The D”, Michelle Oliver learned the secret to Erica’s success by getting a hands-on lesson of how the pierogi are made. Each pierogi is made by hand and not a machine. The soft dough is rolled out and sectioned by the filling. After the filling is centered, a cutter is used to create the famous shape. Lastly, pinch each of the sides of the dough to make sure the filling won’t spill out during the cooking process.
To watch the handmade pierogi process in action, watch the video above.