Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode 210 · 3 months ago

WB-S2E36 Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Empire

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block and Patti Callahan Henry explore storytelling through food and entrepeneurship with Carrie Morey, Chef, TV Star, Author and creator of Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Company

...especially difficult for women to figure out a way to find balance and be able to have a career and be a mom and I just kept pushing forward and it never occurred to me that it would the business would be where it is today, and it's certainly never occurred to me that I would have the opportunity to write one, much less two, cookbooks. That was not in my wheelhouse. So I'm feeling incredibly blessed and is equally surprised, as I'm sure everybody else is, because I'm not a chef, but I'm truly passionate about the food that we make and really all foods and all cultures and learning all about it. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast For New York Times bestselling authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Joined Mary Kay, Andrews Stin Harmel, Christy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry, along with Ron Block as novelists. We are four longtime friends with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to the newest episode of the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Each week we explore different aspects of storytelling and we are all in for a special treat. This week. Our guest, Carrie Morey, tells stories to her seemingly unstoppable passion as a MOM, Cookbook author, entrepreneur, PBS personality and a motivational speaker. I am Ron Block and I am Patty Callahan, Henry and Carrie, who is with the things Ron just listed makes me feel like what am I doing...

...with my life? She is the author of two cookbooks, the latest of which is hot little suppers. She is the founder of Callie's hot little biscuits and star of the PBS show. How she rolls all well, balancing, or maybe not. We'll talk to her family life. There's so many layers to her story, so let's dive right in. Welcome to the PODCAST, Krrie. Thank you all for having me. I'm so glad to be here. Well, we are so glad to have you here. Learning your story has just been so exciting and we're so excited to have you here with so many questions for you. But let's start at the beginning, in your newest cookbook, you describe your life's philosophy as be a biscuit, rise tall, be warm and buttery on the inside and be open to anyone's jam. And you know, those are words to live by, for sure a perfection. Tell us about your early years and how passions developed into that saying. Well, I think that I was very well reared by my father, mainly, who was a single dad at from the age of two for me, and he had a lot of lessons to teach me. But what is the most resounding lesson that he constantly taught me, not only by telling me but showing me, was be kind, be nice to everyone and be open to anyone. I mean he was the most friendly, most open, most willing to help human I could have ever encountered, and so I didn't know that I would be using this every day in my business and in my child rearing of my own children, but it is really benefited me and it just seems appropriate to develop our theme authentically around what I would call a see that version of...

...the golden rule. Basically, Oh, I like that sea up. Yeah, I like that a lot. Carrie, let's talk about Callie's hot little biscuits. How did this delicious and amazing adventure start? You just talked about your dad and the lessons he taught you, but can you tell us where the name came from? When we interview authors we often ask about where the germ of an idea came from, but I want to know it here. Tell us how the company began and how it's grown and expanded. Well, the company began because my mother, Callie, has always made these incredible handmade country hand biscuits and I grew up watching her make them and serving them at some of her catered parties that she would do and I was always on the serving end. So I received the accolades people. Everybody in the south has hand biscuits at every cocktail party, but these hand biscuits were different. They were chopped ham, dijon, mustard, butter, a cheese biscuit, just perfectly delicious and tender and all the things you want a biscuit to be. And so I just think I tucked that little bit of knowledge back away in my head and, you know, went about trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and it always came back to food. But you know, back when I was looking for a job, if you didn't go to culinary school, you really didn't think outside the box as far as what you could do for a food career. So when I moved back home from New York, which is the most amazing place to live if you love food and want a daydream about how to start a business and food, I knew two things. I knew I loved food and wanted to somehow figure out a way to feed people, specifically southern food, in which I was raised. But I also knew that more than anything, I wanted to be a mom and not just have children but really be involved and figure out a way to create a business around my guiding light, which was raising my girls. So that's kind of what the motivation was. And I knew...

...that my mom had a great product, but I knew that, you know, she couldn't be a caterer forever. so I approached her and I said, you know, everybody goes crazy for your biscuits. I've just left an internet company. I can see where this Internet craze is going and I think that we might be able to ship these biscuits and we can use the Internet as our vessel for a mail order business, and that's kind of how it started. What year was that? When did you and where were you? So where did you grow up? where? where? Where in the south did you grow up and where were you when you said it? Feels like you're saying I want to return to some of my roots with this, not only with you, mom, but but with the food. So where do you grow up and where were you when you said this? I grew up in Charleston and after college I lived all over and landed for the last three years before I moved home in New York, and so I kept I knew that I was going to move back to Charleston. I met a lovely man, my husband, and when we moved back I just knew there wasn't a lot of industry for anything other than F and B and this is, you know, a long time ago, twenty years ago, and I knew I didn't want to work in the restaurant world. I knew I didn't want to cater but that was that was what I loved. I loved food and feeding people and entertaining. So my mom and I started talking about what kind of store could we open? Could we open like a din and de Luca. But then you know, being a slave to a brick and mortar was not at all conducive to the lifestyle I wanted to lead. So I had to just keep dreaming about how could I create a business around the lifestyle that I wanted to lead, and I think that it's especially difficult for women to figure out a way to find balance and be able to have a career and be a mom and I just kept pushing forward and it never occurred to me that it would the business would be where it is today, and it's certainly never...

...occurred to me that I would have the opportunity to write one, much less two, cookbooks. That was not in my wheelhouse. So I'm I'm feeling incredibly blessed and is equally surprised, as I'm sure everybody else is, because I'm not a chef, but I'm truly passionate about the food that we make and really all foods and all cultures and learning all about it. So it has been an authentic journey and not one that has been planned. I've never had a business plan. It was just let's sell these biscuits and use the internet to do so. So yeah, that's how it started. I think those, there are some of the best plans I you know, when I said I just want to write one book, that was fifteen books ago. That's awesome. Allow your passion. That's right. So it started out. It's just an Internet only it did and and because we have the hot little biscuit bake shops now, most people don't know it started out just selling online, which in two thousand and five you can imagine how many people we had coming to our website. All of zero. So, uh, you know, there was no advertising and no way for anybody to figure out that you even had a website, and so it was mainly a couple of friends and family that would order at certain times of the year, but it was so slow. But that was okay because I had babies at home. I mean the first three years I had to under two years old. So, you know, looking back on it, I think that it's been a great I've gotten everything I wish for and that I've been able to grow a business as my children had grown and it has slowly grown organically and as they get older I'm able to do more. And at some point you had a little visit somebody whose name starts with an OH. Oh. Yeah, well, she didn't physically come into the shop, but I think gail heard about our biscuits and they asked for samples and we sent them, and that was back in probably two thousand and nine, and she liked them and put them on the list. So that was a big deal. That's a big deal. That...

...must have helped the business to have oprah on board. That has definitely been wonderful. That and the today show and Martha Stewart, all the things. It's just been. We've been very blessed with great press and I think that that's partly because we were one of the first pioneers of food sold through the Internet and definitely artisan food. I mean when I started it was a brand new industry. I mean artism food was not something that people did and now it is everywhere. It is a where it's pervasive and thank goodness. If Anyway, I think part of it too has to do with your story and who you are, and I kind of want to veer off a little bit now, and you decided to expand into the cookbook area and Kelly's biscuits and southern traditions came out in two thousand thirteen. The newest one, hot little suppers, is recently out. What made you decide to branch out into publishing and put that together? And it's so much more than just instruction. It is really the story of who you are and that comes through on every recipe and every page and you just put yourself out there. So talk to me about about bringing these cookbooks to life. Well, I don't think I would have ever done it if I hadn't been pushed to do it, which is how so many things start, right. I actually had I had a good friend who is my agent now, and when I first met her I didn't know that that's what she did, and I don't even think I understood that because I just wasn't in my world. But we got on the today show. This is a funny story. We got on the today show and they asked us to bring something to put in the biscuits. So we showed Koda and Kathie Lee how to make biscuits on live television. So you can only imagine how a comical that was. And then we brought a crabbed dip, a warm crabb dip, for you to scoop onto the biscuits to eat with the biscuits and you get to that moment in the four minutes segment where they're tasting the biscuits and we're all waiting to see her reaction and Kathie Lee tastes...

...the biscuit and she says, Oh my God, this is the most incredible crab dip. We're like what you're sposed to say, biscuit, and she loved the biscuits too. But then what happened was we had over four hundred requests via phone, email calls asking for the crab dip and I'm like, oh my Gosh, this crab dip is like my mom's like version of Charleston receipts recipe. And so I was telling the story to my friend Amy, my now agent, and she said you want to start a blog, and I said a blog? Why would anybody want to read the blog? And so she's the one that pushed me and she said just you people ask you for your food all the time. Just, instead of having to tell them over and over again, put it on, you know, a form where they can go. And I thought it was the craziest idea, but she got me when she said you know, you're constantly asking people to buy things on your website, so what if you were to give them something that really had nothing to do with what you're selling and that, to me, I could get on board with because it wasn't so salesy and it was an authentic picture of what I cook, what I eat and the recipes that were in my family, and that's how it was really that's awesome. And you mentioned Charleston receipts. That is one of my all time favorite cooks. I love it, I love it, I love it. I've had to buy two now because, it were, it's the best. One of the things about the cookbooks, though, that I'd love to ask about a little bit, is you have a list of tools and a list of ingredients in the beginning, which is a really, really helpful component for people. You're talking about why you decided to put those in there, and they're not naming any names. Somebody was really enamored of that. You know. That was at the suggestion of my publicist and and my agent, and I actually would have never thought to do that because I just assumed that everybody has the same tools and things in their kitchen and you know, but whatever you can share to help...

...people feel more comfortable in the kitchen and cook more, I think is always worthy of sharing. Well, for someone who loves to cook but it's not isn't very good at it, and also loves to do lists, because they make me feel like I could check, check, check, to open up your cookbook and see a list of then you can go check and then you know that you're not halfway through a recipe and you're like, Oh, I don't have that thing. That is true, especially the ingredients. It's wonderful. I love it. Well, thank you. Or knowing that if you have the right peeler, you can peel a tomato instead of having to blanch them, because what home cook is going to take the time and effort to blanch tomatoes to make anything? And you can peel it in a second with the perfect mister peeler. I feel at hand raised. Well, if you if you peel them with my peel or, you will never blanch again because it takes two seconds and then you have a tomato rose from the peels that are decor for your platters. I will do it, I'll give it a shot. I think you make it easier okay, Kerry, you say one of my favorite ways to experience New People and cultures is through food, so I want you to talk to us just a little bit about that. Well, for me, cooking is the way that I expressed myself and show love. So and I think that's very, very common for people that Cook. So for me to be able to share a meal with somebody is to really, like, break down all the walls and get to know them right roll up your sleeves and sit down and eat a meal, and even better if you're cooking the food in which you grew up on or eating the food that that person grew up on, and then you learn more about them as a person. And I've always said that the best way to break down any walls and barriers is to have a meal. And you know, it's hard to...

...have cross words when you're eating great food, especially when the food has a story or a celebration or a reason behind it, especially if you're honoring them with the food or trying to like if you then maybe you can have a conversation that that isn't about surface things but about who they are, why they like the food they like, what where they came from. I just when I read that line I was like yes, and I think there's something to be said for having people come and eat in your home. So anybody can make a dinner reservation and go sit up at a dinner at somebody else's table, but bringing somebody into your home or going to someone's home and sharing that's such a personal experience and to intimate. It's intimate and to me it's an honor. Like I don't get invited to people's houses very often to eat and when I do I get so excited. So and that's literally how I spend my time and our off time, and my entire family would tell you. They come home and they say what's for dinner and who's coming over and they always want to have people ever, because they always had that in their entire life. So it's so meaningful. Just a little aside, I recently gave somebody a tomato sandwich and they thought I was a hillbilly, but I grew up on those. That's the story. That's what we had out again, I could eat them every meal. Did you feel your tomato? I didn't. Oh, all right, you gotta promise me you'll eat a peel tomato sandwich and there's a big difference. I will I'm going to get this peeler and I'm going to do it and I will report back, I promise. All right, what had an addendum to the podcast not going like Yep, I did it. They were great. So do you have favorite recipes that you make and that it requested a lot from you? Oh yeah, between the two cookbooks, are we just focusing on hot little today? Anything?...

I have a lot of favorites, especially from my my family and friends. I mean the ones that immediately come to mine. Or macaroni Pie, which was my grandmother Caroline's maccaroni and cheese. It's made with, as she would say, Vermicelli noodles, which it's hard to find a Vermicelli noodle, which is also a thin spaghetti noodle, which is also, I'm sure, a riff on some Charleston receipts recipe that she puts her own spin on, but that is, you know, the ultimate comfort food. My girls love it. We have it every year for Thanksgiving. OAKAH Rice is another one that I grew up on. The rice over butter beans is a big one UM. And then within our own family we've created memories where my girls are constantly asking for the same thing, like Italian wedding soup, which has a great story behind Um. Our girls not knowing what it was during a snow day and then creating an entire wedding with the kids in the neighborhood down to a wedding ceremony, a homemade cake and an invitation and the five year old marrying the eight year old across the street and all the parents coming dressed in formal attire for the wedding. So love it and that's that is saved as a as a highlight on my instagram real and that we always go back and look at it and the girl. This was seven years ago. So it's just it's so cool how one thing, food, and so this one recipe that my children did not know what it was, created this entire event that, by the way, did not include any electronics, you know. So I love that because in their imagination, their creativity just started working. They're like, this is what we're gonna do, we're gonna have a wedding around Italian wedding too. That's amazing. I love it so in hot little supper, though, was there any recipe that really kind of gave you a struggle that it was really difficult to get just right, but to put it in there. Wow, that didn't get the impression that there would be much because, well, I think because the food that is in all of those cookbooks,...

...hot little suppers especially, is this is food that I've been cooking for my family for years, so I had a lot of time to Um, you know, fail and then make it better and then make it over and over again. And I just have to say again I'm not a chef. These are recipes that I'm a home cook and their family favorites. So I don't know that there's anything that is super hard. I do think there's a lot of chopping, because I do love the thought of my recipes, specifically the southern ones, being a little bit updated with lots of fresh herbs and more fresh vegetables than maybe a traditional southern recipe would have. That makes sense. I find chopping to beat therapeutic. I love that. Me Too. Going to be a chef, I'd be the chop chef. Yeah, whatever, that is, me too. Me Too. And I love how each recipe has hot little tips next to so that if it is a recipe that you're feeling like, Oh, I'm not sure I have time for that, I need a quick family dinner, weeknight family dinner, and then you read the hot little tips and you're like got it. Yeah, and I think that the recipes in hot little suppers really can you know, you have a section on sides and extras and a lot of times those can be meals and they can be converted into something else, so they're very versatile. There are so many great celebrity chefs and bakers and they have TV shows and cookbooks. But growing up or even today, do you have a favorite television chef or Baker who inspires you like you inspire everybody else? Do you even I think a lot of people inspire me. I don't. I have people that in the past. I don't really have time to watch TV now, but when I used to watch TV in my early twenties, there were certain chefs that I loved. I loved a Jella Lawson. I just enjoy watching her effort,...

...effortlessly create things that, in my opinion, are like home cooked meals but are so fabulous and over the top. She would be the person that stands out to me more than anyone else, and I like them all, but I don't know, there's just something about her that I think is easy to watch. She's easy to watch and I just wanted to step back and innute. Your cookbooks really are very accessible, and that's the audience mainly for cookbooks. Um, they're the ones who wants something that they feel they can be successful at, and and and, and your stories help them do that and share with their own families. So it's kind of your story expanding. It's really wonderful. Let's talk about how she rules. How did this all get started? It I am just as surprised as everyone else. I I can't even believe it, even today, as we are getting ready to watch this, the second season come out. You know, for years I had not a ton of people, but I've had a few different production companies reach out and asked me if I wanted to do a television show and about my business, and I thought that was so, so strange, but intriguing of course, because we all know that that's going to be the best way to get the word out about your business right and it just never felt right. There was always something wrong with the production company or the way they wanted to spend it. And you know, my number one concern was our family. And when PBS, or when this production company approached me and said that they thought that it would be a good show for PBS, I really thought, Humh, that is something that I could trust and feel safe. And, you know, aside from wanting to get exposure for the business, of course, I would love, love it if I could have inspired anyone to, you know, go and try for their own dreams. So I felt really good...

...about it and I felt like it wasn't going to be sensationalized and I felt like it was more of a you know, an educational program than anything else. So that's why I said yes. Yeah, and like your other endeavors, it really shows your story and you bring your family into it and it's really charming. Isn't quite enough of a word, but it really is charming. It feels good and even up here in Ohio we watch it on PBS two. Thank you well, and I think the word, I think the word you used about the cookbook, accessible, is the same with the show. It's accessible. You're you're not, you're not over there, you know, playing a lobster. You know, in a way that the rest of us could never do your it's accessible and your family's involved and it's it's charming, it's right, right, and people look at it and go like, I can do that, I can do that, I think, and you're a great teacher and you're very gentle about saying coming along, coming along, trying cooking. So what are me your favorite moments from the first season? Oh my Gosh, you know, I think my the thing that I'm most proud of is that we were able to capture what it was really like to be a business during the pandemic, which obviously we had no idea that was going to happen when we started the show. It was such an emotional roller coaster and and and there were highs and lows, and so I'm very grateful that we have that to have captured so that. That was amazing. I also am really grateful that we captured the racial injustice that was going on and very proud of the way our business chose to handle it. And I think that is an incredibly important moment in our history and hopefully the beginning of a turning point of better things to come. So that made me very proud and I think just the overall resiliency of our company and the employees and the way...

...everybody works so well together for the most part and, you know, hopefully showing that culture is really important within a company and treating people like a biscuit rising tall, the warm, warm and buttery on the inside of me and open to anyone's jam is always the best way to be. And we by no means are perfect and we make mistakes every day and but we are constantly trying to be better and doing better. So I think, I hope that was conveyed. Oh my God, yes, yes, it's refreshing to to to see that viewpoint come across. What can we expect in the new season? Ah, it's it is uh, it's fun, but most spoilers, I would say you're going to see a lot of biscuits, you're gonna see a lot of family suffers, you're going to see a lot of business going up and down. I mean lots of change. Um Two has been the hardest year that I have been in business and it has been an incredibly equally difficult year for my family and that we have and I'm not gonna go into it, but we've had some really bad health challenges and you see it all. And so it has. It has, uh, it's shaped everything about me as a mom, a business owner, everything. Um, so it is. It's it's very I think it's I think it's very good. I actually am very pleased and another reason why people are going to be relating to you so definitely hard. What do you hope viewers take away from how she rolls? I hope that viewers take away that I'm just like every other person, that we are flawed. We are working unbelievably hard for a goal of...

...making our hot our little biscuit company grow, with my number one goal being to be the best moment that I can be and also be a great example for them and that you know nothing, nothing good, is ever easy and that it is a constant challenge and that no matter what happens, whether it's within your business or your personal life, you have to get up the next day and keep going. And you know, that is the lesson that I've already known that lesson, but that is the lesson that I'm constantly teaching my children and myself and reminding myself when the chips are down, you gotta keep getting up, you gotta keep getting up. When one door closes, another one open. So I would say that would be the unintentional theme of season two. Rise like a biscuit. Baby's right. Keep rising, trading no matter what happens. Right exactly carry it has been so amazing getting to know you. I do feel that we could keep talking for another hour, but the twists your career has taken and to be able to watch how you followed this nudge. That said, this biscuit mattered to our family and it might matter to a couple other people and it has turned into cookbooks, a show, a lifestyle of parenting, you know, parenting theory. You have have really so much to admire about what you have done. So where can our listeners find more information about you and your work and the second season of the show? Where would they go to find such things? The easiest place to go is callie's biscuits dot com, and there you can find out about our handmade products. You can find out about our TV show, our hot little biscuit bake shops where our biscuits are sold. All the things are there, of course. So media. My instagram is Carrie Bailey Mori, and our...

...other instagram for the business is Callie's hot little biscuit and, of course, we'd love for you to follow along. Thank you so much for joining us carry you are our pleasure. Thank you for having been wonderful wonderful. Appreciate it, and thank you to everyone listening. I, along with the Fab four, cannot tell you how much we appreciate you tuning in every Friday. Please share with a friend. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook or youtube. Where are live? Friends and fiction show airs at seven PM Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

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