What first brought you Copenhagen?
Grace: After finishing college, I came to Denmark for the first time in 1991. I didn't really know I was going to stay for so long and back then I knew very little about the country. I could barely differentiate Sweden from Denmark…
Erin: I came for the first time to visit in 1993, and then for a semester of school at DIS [Study Abroad in Scandinavia, ed.] during my university years. I was coming and going between Denmark and the US for a while and then I got a job as an art director and worked in the marketing field. Back then, I was ‘the American' in the ad agency. When we first came to the country, there wasn't so many Americans. I was 24, and one thing led to another and now I have my base here, it's my home. I also have my American home though.
How did you two meet?
Grace: Back then the Americans expats in Denmark were a smaller community. We met each other here in Copenhagen via the advertising business. I owned a production company and Erin was an art director and I went in for a meeting with her one day…
Erin: …and it was like, “Hey, what are you doing here?”. We got along well since the beginning and started hanging out, and quickly became close friends.
Why did you start the The American Pie Co.?
Grace: Erin and I have long dreamt about creating our own business around the idea of something so simple and good as pie. When you spend so much time away from home, little things like baking pies can make you feel at home. It has always been a way for us to overcome homesickness and gather people around the table, so the idea of setting up a pie joint was a vision we wanted to follow.
Erin: It was just last December when we seriously thought about setting up a place where you could enjoy pies the way we do in the US. We knew that if we had such a business, it would be essential that not only the pies be delicious and make from scratch, just as we would in the USA, but that the vibe around the place was truly authentic. We wanted to share “our world” with Denmark.
Are Danes big pie eaters?
Erin: We find that people are more and more interested in quality food. Danes are very curious about what they eat and want the experience of the ‘real deal'. Some of the Danes who visit us have lived or travelled in the US, and loved the baked goods, but couldn't find authentic pies here.
Grace: Danish people want to experience and embrace a more natural version of American food. We are receiving a lot of reservations for Thanksgiving pies. It's common to see Danes interested in sharing some American traditions.
Both of you have been here for many years, any plans to go back to the US?
Grace: I was 20 years old when I arrived and I didn't know I'd end up staying for so long. My daughter is now 17 years old and I'm glad that she has been raised here. I love the calm and the safety of the city. And also the way people behave, they are really respectful and polite. But sometimes you think of the consequences of being far from home for 20 years and you can't help being homesick sometimes.
Erin: I also married a Dane and have a little daughter. Time goes by pretty quickly and at some point it is like: “Have I been here for five years, ten years, fifteen years…?”. But it is true than when I'm back in the United States I feel different in some sort of way. I actually tried to move back with my family to California recently, but we decided to return to Copenhagen. We love America, but we are very happy with our way of living here in Copenhagen.
Did you learn to speak Danish?
Grace: I do my best, but it's difficult to express myself in the way I want sometimes. If I want to elaborate I still answer in English. Danes are so good at English, it's easy to communicate.
Erin: Yes, but not right away. My first five years I got away with just speaking English, although I could read Danish okay. But I ended up learning over the years – I had young Danish nephews and in-laws who weren't fluent in English, so it was a necessity if I wanted to communicate with them!
How much the city has changed since you arrived?
Erin: We can remember when coffee-to-go was inconceivable here several years ago and now everyone does it! Also there was not such a wide range of places to have breakfast or brunch. There has been a lot of changes and we can feel that today many Danes embrace other aspects of American culture, like Halloween, for example – and now even Thanksgiving is catching on.
Grace: I think that The American Pie Company comes at a perfect time, when people are interested in what they eat and want to experience food the most authentic way possible. We bake the way our grandmothers did and I think people can see that we're the “real deal”.