Pies for Grownups: A Splash of Bourbon or Tequila Doesn't Hurt Dessert

A box of tiny pies from Hugo's.
A box of tiny pies from Hugo's.
Allison Trebacz
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Hugo’s Hand Pies AZ creates pies of many sizes, most of them small, and many powered by booze. The bakery doesn’t have a physical bakery as of yet. For now, you can order Melissa Tu’anaki’s creations online or find them at select Valley farmers markets.

Tu’anaki is the baker and one half of Hugo’s Pies. The other half is her dog, Hugo.

Don’t expect the comfort of your grandma’s pie at Hugo’s. These are pies for grownups, with complex flavors that have a tendency to use alcohol to reach an extra dimension. Tu’anaki has an apple pie with a bourbon bite, a margarita pie with notes of tequila. She has been experimenting with savory pies, both boozy and non-boozy, including a steak and stout pie as well as a potato, curry, and cauliflower.

She has featured pies more traditional, like sweet potato pie. She also has featured more inventive pies, like Mexican chocolate with dulce de leche, topped with whipped cream.

“A lot of [ingredients] either come from where we are seasonally,” Tu’anaki says. “It’s what we can get from local farms. And then what our clients want. I also try to throw in flare with booze. I like to incorporate things like bourbon and tequila just to take a different spin.”

Don’t worry if you don’t like boozy pies. Tu’anaki can do just about any kind of pie – just don’t expect it to be boring.

Until January, baking had always been a hobby, something that brought her a sense of peace and calm. Owning a bakery looked like a great retirement plan. But now, in her early 30s, Tu’anaki is taking the plunge and growing into her own pie business in the valley. Currently, Tu’anaki is still working a regular corporate job and slinging pies on the side.

Closeup of tiny pies.
Closeup of tiny pies.
Allison Trebacz

Hugo’s Pies does mini pies, hand pies, and full-size pies.

The ingredients Tu’anaki uses are just as important as the concepts, and lead to more flavor. Hugo’s Pies incorporate locally available ingredients when possible.

“My whole thing is we want to use just real ingredients.” Tu’anaki says. “So in, in everything that we do, in everything that we make, it's 100 percent real. There aren't preservatives, there isn't a bunch of crap in it.”

Hugo’s Hand Pies is just getting started. Right now, it's focused on catering, but farmers market and pie enthusiasts can expect to see Hugo’s array of pies popping up more and more as the new farmers market season returns closer to fall.

In the meantime, Tu’anaki is receiving catering orders, sharing mouthwatering photos, and delivering updates through Hugo’s Instagram @HugospiesAZ.

Follow to see what she’s making, and reach out to place an order. You might even find her at the local farmers market, shopping for her next creation.

Hugo’s Pies AZ. @HugosPiesAZ. hugoshandpies@gmail.com.

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