There are 756 layers of butter and dough in Tempe baker Steven Gerner’s savory Squarz Meat Pies.
Steven Gerner is a fifth-generation baker, but his path to the kitchen followed an unusual route. A biochemist by trade, Gerner served as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa after college. But when he returned to Arizona in 2011, he didn’t want to work in a “boring lab” anymore.
While abroad, Gerner became enamored with handheld British meat pies. Back in the Valley, he experimented with different recipes and made them for his friends. He started with four flavors – chicken pot pie, chicken and mushroom, shepherd’s pie, and spinach and feta, all wrapped in buttery puff pastry – to sell at farmers’ markets around the Valley. The response was so positive that Gerner expanded his business to include wholesale clients.
In 2015, Gerner opened Squarz Bakery & Café, a commercial kitchen and eatery in Tempe, where he offers croissant sandwiches, salads, desserts and 12 varieties of frozen mini pies that customers can bake at home. Gerner and staff make the flaky puff pastry from scratch and produce about 1,400 pies a day. “It takes a lot of time, and each of those little mini pies has 756 layers of butter and dough,” he says. “Most people aren’t going to make this at home.”
Gerner continues to sell his all-natural fare at farmers’ markets around the Valley and will open a second café this fall in North Scottsdale.
Squarz Bakery & Café
975 E. Elliot Rd., Tempe