Mary Ellen Diaz put in time as head chef at Printer's Row, as chef-owner of her own place, and as a corporate chef for the Lettuce Entertain You empire. But her dream had always been to work in a restaurant modeled on Jane Addams's community kitchens. In 2002 she launched First Slice, a nonprofit that makes hand-cooked meals for the homeless. To fund it Diaz originally used money from her subscription meal service; in 2005 she opened this First Slice Pie Cafe in the Lillstreet Art Center to further increase the amount. In the tiny space—there are just a few tables—she offers slices of several truly scrumptious pies, from basic apple to red wine and poached pear, plus cakes, cookies, bars, and fair-trade coffee served in mugs made at the center. Savory offerings include simple, hearty dishes such as creamy tomato soup, turkey chili, black bean tamales with pepita salsa, a shredded duck sandwich on sourdough, and a grilled number with goat cheese, roasted vegetables, and poached pear.
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