June 4, 2010

Cutie Pie Wagon

"Come on down to the pie wagon where you can stuff your pie hole because my pies will put the doo da back in your zippety."
Indeed Jaynie Buckingham is rightly the self-proclaimed Pie Queen of Austin, Texas but it hasn't always been so. For the 8 years prior to opening Cute Pie, Jaynie was a hospice nurse.  Her boss at the time took her to lunch one day and was bragging about entering her buttermilk pie at an amateur contest at the historic Driskill hotel downtown.  In typical Jaynie-fashion, she told her boss to put her money where her mouth was and entered her own mother's recipe for buttermilk pie.  As fate would have it, Jaynie's pie won, and is now featured on the menu at the Driskill.  Her same pie has been highlighted as 'the best pie in the South' in Southern Living magazine as well as Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  Speaking of Martha, Jaynie says her mother was Martha before Martha knew she was Martha.  Her mother used to entertain her father's friends in the airforce, and her family compiled 300-400 of the recipes she used to use.  In Jaynie's words, "she could have had crackers, mayo and ketchup and made a buffet out of it."  Jaynie lost her mother when she was 18, and she draws a great deal of her inspiration from her mom's recipes.  
So how did she make the shift from hospice nurse to Pie Queen?  "It got to the point where I was crying at the reports every morning and I didn't want to do it anymore.  I'm 48 years old and thinking about changing careers - I just wanted to make pie.  I'm happy when I'm making pie.  I enjoy myself when I'm making pie.  I'm a better person when I'm making pie.  I just want to make pie."  Jaynie must be in really high spirits, as her customers are demanding she churn out about 400 pies a day.

With the 'best pie in the South' the Pie Queen could have her choice of where to open up shop, but she chooses Austin.  "I'm an old hippie chick.  I grew up in the time of Armadillo World Headquarters.  In fact, I found a ticket for a Journey concert there for $4.50..... I dig Barton Springs, the outdoors, the people.  I have the best job in the whole world - I experiment with flavors, honor my mother's legacy, and watch the freak show that is Austin go by every day," Jaynie reports.  Her pie wagon is a refurbished motorcycle trailer that her husband covered with a roof.  Although Buttermilk Pie is her signature pie, her personal favorite is the White Chocolate Coconut Pecan.  Those two along with her Dutch Chocolate are her top three sellers.