When I set out to create the most delicious banana cream pie recipe, I never realized it would evolve and turn into so much more.
I remember the day Joe sent me the picture of a slice of pie with a text that said "You have to figure out how to make this pie." Then came the phone call 5 minutes later. "I just had the most amazing pie at this restaurant here in Louisville. You gotta figure it out so we can put it on the menu."
Joe had a million ideas on what he wanted on his restaurant menu. Sometimes it drove me nuts, other times it made me giggle. I'd remind him about the persona's I'd created for him based on community research, and he'd stare at me blankly for a few minutes, then get a big smile on his face and say "thanks for keeping me grounded". This menu item didn't get that reaction from me, it was quite the opposite. I thought a banana cream pie was a great idea!
The only problem was he wanted me to make a pie I had never tasted before. All I had was a picture to go off of, Joe’s description of what it tasted like, and his overflowing confidence in me that I could pull it off. Joe was always my biggest cheerleader when it came to my work. So, I set out to recreate Guy Fieri's banana cream pie from his restaurant Smokehouse. No pressure!! Geez!
A few weeks later I placed a slice of my version in front of him. He tasted it, his eyes lit up and he said "You nailed it. I could eat this every day. I knew you'd figure it out!"
A month later he was diagnosed with Stage 4 GBM, the most aggressive form of brain cancer there is. I didn't realize that this pie (and a later version by my mom) would become such a comfort to him.
During his cancer journey, my Mom would often bring him meals. When she asked what he might like for dessert, I told her my banana cream pie. To know my Mom, is to know that she will create her own recipe, rather than follow yours. And we are both competitive when it comes to who has the best recipes.
I didn't realize just how much Joe loved Mom's pie until the time his Mom and Aunt were visiting. We were gearing up for his second brain surgery and my Mom brought us all dinner complete with a banana cream pie.
We finished dinner and his Mom, Aunt and I got the table set for dessert. The three of us sat down and waited for Joe to join us. We waited. And waited. Finally we hear Joe's voice. "Your Mom brought that pie for me. I'm not sharing it."
We all looked at each other blankly. Then we smiled at each other and got up and put the pie in the fridge for him. The next week when my Mom brought us dinner complete with dessert, she had two pies. One marked with Joe's initials and another pie for us girls.
That first banana cream pie, I created for Joe's restaurant menu was meant to bring joy and comfort to his patrons. In turn it evolved into an equally tasty version by my mom that brought Joe so much joy and comfort. Regardless of which recipe you make it is sure to bring joy and comfort to those you make it for. Enjoy!
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