Decadent bites / treats

The perfect storm....

The perfect storm....

I think "the perfect storm" was the title from a movie I saw years ago, but the words just sounded poetic and more interesting than "the perfect Sunday afternoon."

If you are only to here to read about luscious desserts, your reading will not be in total vain.  Now each paragraph will not cause your tummy to rumble with excitement, but I do have a little decadence to share. 

In the picture, I have a few of my new favorite things -- Match Latte from Summit Coffee at Birkdale Landing strategically nestled on top of a table with the perfect mixture of sun and shade.  My favorite Moleskin journal embossed with the University of Richmond - Robins School of Business logo, the book my eGroup (Elevation Church Bible study group) is reading, and the Southern Living "Cakes & Pie” edition from 2017.  

As I mentioned months ago, I have a lovely relationship with Nieslen-Massey Vanilla.  I create a dessert featuring their agreed upon product and they send me free product!  I've been using their amazing vanilla since I was introduced to it at the French Pastry School, a million years ago (I'm rounding) so it's a win-win for us both!  I have NEVER liked or gravitated toward the artistic creative or whimsical side of cake decorating.  However, I love flipping through a magazine on a crisp sunny day under a picturesque Carolina blue sky for flavor inspiration. Viola - inspiration struck!  I decided to merge 2 different recipes together to create a Spiced Pina Colada Cheesecake.  With all the modifications I noted, it will either be culinary genius or something we shall never speak of again.  I need to get this creation completed before the end of this month.  So I will schedule the creation time very soon!

You might be wondering -- "don't you miss baking all the time?"  My answer may surprise you, but NO, not really.  Please don't misunderstand.  I'm a firm believer that everything is for a time and a season.  And currently, I'm in a different season.  Although, I am extremely skilled in multitasking to an insane level.  I am still very firmly rooted in reality and know when enough is enough.  On the business side -- I've modified almost every page on my website, steadily moving further through the process of landing several new large corporate clients for speaking engagements and private baking experiences as a team building activity, giving a presentation this week, and working on proposals for a couple other corporate clients.  In addition, the ATD video was released and I was also awarded the CVMSDC 2022 Class I - Supplier of the Year award. 

On the personal side -- after 20 showings in 3 days, I poured over 8 offers and sold my dad's house in NY.  Since he’s elderly, I’m coordinating 14-20 other tasks for him all from Huntersville, NC, and selecting the upcoming date this month to get him on a plane to Charlotte. 

All of the above comes with an entire new set of stressors.  However, I pray a lot, ask friends to pray for me, and have found ways to maintain balance and stay on top of my game.  So for now, retaining baking would have been 1 spinning plate too many.

For everything there is a time and a season, and I wait with great anticipation to see the season change again. 




Maria Kemp
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A $5,000,000,000 BILLION dollar company...

A $5,000,000,000 BILLION dollar company...

I would say, "Somebody pinch me!" but I don't want to have any residual marks for the premier of my video with American Tire Distributors (ATD)!

I call my dad everyday to hear about his day, tell him about mine AND to covertly gauge how he's doing.  This weekend, I was telling him about my meeting with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of American Tire Distributors (ATD) - Bill Williams.  I was sharing with him how nice Mr. Williams was and the details of our conversation.  I could hear my dad's smile through the phone as he was definitely having a proud papa moment!  

I was telling him the magnitude of what this relationship meant to my small business -- a GI-NORMOUS company with $5 billion dollars in annual sales truly saw me!  They saw in me what I and my parents have known all along and said, "Her!  We want her!  We want to invest in helping her business grow!"  

You have NO IDEA the amount or number of times I cried tears of joy!  The realization of every twist, turn, ebb and flow I've been through over the years has shaped, molded and refined me to be ready for this moment.  I don't know what the future holds or what new doors of opportunity will swing open, but I know at my core I will remain unchanged.  I will continue to honor God and my dad in his time of need, be kind, help others shine, prioritize my family, and make ATD proud they chose me!   

Ohhh and there's that handful of other "small" tasks -- multiple courses to finish writing, a million Zoom meetings, marketing collateral to review, recipes to test, video premier, and a huge speaking engagement to prepare know...the usual. 🤣

Maria Kemp
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Family First...always

Family First...always


  1. Beyond Decadence is still in business.
  2. Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.
  3. Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes.


Let me state this first -- Beyond Decadence is still in business!

As many of you know from reading the About Chef Maria page, I opted to close my initial brick & mortar bakery after my mom's stroke. If it weren't for the virtual world we now live in, I would be contemplating the same thing now to support my aging dad.  

I chose not to make a public announcement at the time, but I spent most of January in New York helping my father.  I still donned my chef jacket to attend Zoom meetings, met with corporate clients, taught a three-part virtual class for South Piedmont Community College, planned a video shoot, and finalized details for a speaking engagement, all while completing ~47 individual tasks for my dad. I left NY's single-digit temperature behind yesterday and welcomed 54 degrees in Charlotte with a smile! Now it's Tuesday evening and finally time to gather my thoughts to share a snippet of this story.

I told my dad several times I inherited my fearlessness, strength, and fierce independence from him. However, I still repeated it one last time on our drive to the airport just in case he needed to hear it again. He's getting up there in age but as fiery and independent as ever! As he reminded me during week two, "I don't want you thinking I'm an invalid or something!" I chuckled and said, "Oh, I know THAT, but it can't be years again before you let me come visit!" By the end of our trip, when I told him when I'd be back again, he said, "That sounds great to me!"

I felt like my sleep was constantly interrupted trying to figure out how to juggle my dad in NY, my business, and the fact that I live in NC. FINALLY, the flow came together!  The only way I can be there for my dad AND still run my business is to make some temporary changes. 

I've always been a planner, but it will be paramount now. 

Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes. 

Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.  I’ll reopen my online store’s public offerings if and when things change with my dad.   

Again, Beyond Decadence is still in business – we’re just pausing some of our offerings.  Thank you for understanding my decision to adjust the business temporarily so I can be with my dad when I am needed. 

Maria Kemp
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The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

After I received a call from a client to host a private baking experience at their home early next week, it triggered a thought!  Why not offer "The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience" to someone hosting a private NYE celebration in their home!  Perhaps you've had your New Year's Eve plans finalized for months.  But maybe, just maybe, you are still looking for "that thing" that pushes your party over the edge into something epic, enviable, and truly amazing.  That's where I come in with all my desserts, tools, ingredients, supplies, and extroverted personality....

Allow me to dazzle your guests with a private baking experience/demo for the evening!  Once you express your interest, we'll have a short meeting to discuss the menu, format, time frame of the evening, and schedule a walk-through of your kitchen.  Guests will be able to watch, perform limited hands-on, and interact with me during the evening for a truly remarkable, decadent, and unforgettable evening.  Pricing starts at $95/guest.  10 guest minimum and COVID restrictions will apply. 

Only one (1) Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience is available.   Call or email to book today!

P.S.  Christmas ordering closed on Thursday, 12/16.  

Maria Kemp
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"Do you want to build a snowman?!"

"Do you want to build a snowman?!"

Oh, I know I should have used a picture of a luscious Christmasy-looking dessert, but the little snowman was too adorable to ignore!  And I'm channeling that song from Frozen!

First of all, I want to say a big "THANK YOU!!!" to all my fabulous clients who choose to have Beyond Decadence desserts grace their Thanksgiving tables AND Todd of Pita Pit for allowing me to load up his refrigerator for order pickups!  This was the first year (of 5 holiday seasons), I pushed the dessert pickup date a day earlier than normal.  Why?!  Because I wanted to "recover" and drive 4.5 hours to Atlanta to spend the holiday with my daughter and cousins.  I decided to take on less orders this year than normal, so I wouldn't be utterly exhausted and my body racked with pain to make the long journey down I-85. 

As I walked through my friend's heart attack, it brought a new "awareness" of the fragility of life and how things can change without warning, wake-up calls, or flashing red lights.  So when my daughter wasn't able to come to me for the holiday, my decision to go to her became a no-brainer.  

And I did the unthinkable....

I left my laptop at home!  I cleaned up all my email from my phone, but didn't even turn on my laptop until tonight for the first time since last Monday or Tuesday!  I sat on my daughter's balcony in the crisp Georgia air and felt the stress melt away with every stroke of petting my grand-fur baby, Fluffy.  I even completely forgot to schedule all my Christmas desserts to display on 11/26!  Oh well, I didn't have any Black Friday deals anyway, so in the big scheme of things fixing it all tonight was really fine. 

I have some exciting new and familiar desserts on the Christmas menu!  I also lifted the restriction on the states I will ship to since the weather is finally getting colder.  If I've missed one of your favorites on the menu, drop me an email and I'll see if I can make the magic happen for you.  However, please be aware there is a $30 order minimum (in general) and to checkout on the website.  

The ordering deadlines are on the Shipping/Pickup/Delivery page.  I have several corporate private virtual baking experiences on my calendar, so please heed the ordering deadlines.

Let it go, let it go....oh sorry, that's the other song from Frozen...


Maria Kemp
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But wait!  There's more!

But wait! There's more!

Well it sure doesn't take long for the tide to change directions does it?  One day, I'm super excited about the possibility of becoming a TV star.  The next day I'm eating consolation chocolate frozen custard in my car, because the dream is put on pause for a while longer.  I won't recap the entire story in this post, but you can read my post on FB about what happened. 

As Taylor Swift would say it's time to "shake it off, shake it off!"

Instead let's focus on the truly amazing things God is doing in Beyond Decadence!  As if being approached by a very large company with a potential order that will be the single largest order I've EVER received isn't enough....but wait, there's more...

That individual had been rallying the troops to do business with me when I thought my email from early October was swirling around in a sea on nothingness.  She said she didn't want to reach out to me until she knew for certain and now we're there.  There are still details to finalize and let's pray this will fare better than the TV gig, but my faith is strong this will turn out the way it's supposed to.  She already referred me to another colleague who I'm working with for desserts to ship along with Champagne to her clients in February.  (I LOVE when clients plan ahead!)

And if that wasn't enough, I've already been approached by 2 different institutions of higher learning to put together proposals or curriculum to teach for them and an encore presentation at Johnson & Wales....but wait, there's more...

I booked my 2nd corporate holiday private virtual baking experience last week!  I'm excited to work with a California-based company to bring a lot of fun, festive cheer, and delicious desserts to this team of 28!  I've had what has felt like back-to-back Zoom meetings with a least 5 other companies that are now ready to book their virtual holiday baking experiences....but wait, there's more...

I've breached the hallowed gates of a WHALE (to use a Las Vegas term) company and may soon be able to them to my list of corporate clients!  I have a team within the company interested in my private virtual baking experiences!  We're still trying to re-connect.  But never the less, my internal contact said they will be featuring my business internally in the next couple of weeks!  I'm going to ask if I can get a copy of the communication!  Of course I'm praying I get business out of it, but it's still very exciting to make the cut to be shared internally as a supplier they want to do business with!

Thanksgiving orders have been trickling in the last couple of days.  I thought I was over-communicating/over-posting to "order now, order now", but I've had more than one person ask "Is your Thanksgiving menu out yet?"  My response has been "Ah, yeah, it's been posted since early October!  Thanksgiving order is closing on 11/16 or when I'm sold out!"  I kept the pie inventory manageable this year since I have just a few irons in the fires, so don't be a slow poke ordering or you will miss out.  And like the old SNL skit with the soup *azi -- "No pie for you!"



Maria Kemp
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Thanksgiving Tik Tok, tick tock, Tik Tok

Thanksgiving Tik Tok, tick tock, Tik Tok

Well thank God this weekend (so far) is buzzing by with no emergency room visits! 

Are you in disbelief too that the calendar already says "November"?  AND now for 2 days in a row, ear muffs have been a required accessory!  I'm not sure what to say, but the harsh reality is fall is here and for us now thin-blooded's cold!  

That means Thanksgiving, holidays, and Christmas are merely around the corner.  I wish I could say I will send out countless reminders to place your orders, but I don't like flooding inboxes and trying to come up with 20 new ways to say "Order Now or you'll miss out!", I just don't have that level of creativity.  If you aren't ready to order now, I'd suggest putting a reminder on your calendar to do it before 11/16.  However, that deadline date comes with a warning so read on.  

Just as I predicted all the corporate clients I've been building a rapport with over the last 4-9 months are now ready to book their private virtual baking experiences for the holidays.  Can you blame them?!  What better way to end the year with a fun, interactive, immersive experience learning how to make a decadent dessert! To say my days have been filled with a lot of recipe testing, Zoom meetings, phone calls, and coordinating details would be an understatement.  I can't wait to share the name of some of the companies that are currently in my line-up -- household names is putting it mildly. 

A few other major things that have graced my to-do list is Tik Tok.  I was holding out and resisting the wave, but the platform holds some distinct advantages to sell to an even larger audience.  You can find me on Tik Tok under .  I only have a few videos out there right now, but more are coming.  

The other MAJOR item I'm working on (in my imaginary free time) is testing a zero-sugar sweetener.  It doesn't effect the glycemic index which is a HUGE win for diabetics or anyone sensitive to sugar!  My first test was with my infamous Lemon Bars and to say that was an epic fail would be putting it mildly.  The normally gooey sticky filling became a bit rubbery and the bars lost a lot of the lemon zing.  My next test will be with mini cheesecakes.  I've heard from the supplier and other users of the product that cheesecake does extremely well, so I'll keep everyone posted.  I do NOT intend to develop an entire zero-sugar dessert line.  That would take ions of testing that I simply don't have time for.  However, I would like to develop at least 2 items that will allow those with sugar sensitivity to have a delicious option.

Oh wow, I almost forget -- there's a new calendar app on the website that will make it easier to pick the date for your baking experiences!  Also, I introduced baking experiences for adults and kids (tweens/teens).  

Please order your Thanksgiving desserts if you plan to now.  As my calendar fills up with baking experiences, the available quantity of desserts and/or the ordering window could definitely close before 11/16.

Happy fall y'all!🍂🍁❄️☃️🎄

Maria Kemp
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A departure from the norm

A departure from the norm

Today I have something so heavy on my heart that I feel like I would be an injustice not to share it.  If you prefer to skip to the end and hear about the upcoming holidays and French macaron baking experience for kids, then go ahead and scroll to the last 2 paragraphs.

Yesterday the unthinkable happened.  My friend and I were preparing to go to the gym when she starting vomiting, pain in her chest and arm.  Long story short, we rushed to the emergency room and I waited in my car (COVID restrictions) to see what the diagnosis would be.  I was fully expecting them to say "it's xyz" and send her home with orders to rest.  Instead the security guard came rushing out at the same I was getting out of my car and said, "It's a good thing you got her here when you did, she's having a heart attack!"  The rest was a well-coordinated flurry of activity with a lot of information to retain. 

They had to transfer her to a hospital with cardiovascular care.  The most gut-wrenching moment was when her ambulance passed me with their lights and sirens on.  Just knowing that my friend was in the back and time was of the essence brought me to uncontrollable tears.  It made me wonder how often do ambulances pass us and we don't give thought to the person in the back or we bristle at the inconvenience of missing the light because they are trying weave their way through cars that don't grasp the concept to move off the road. 

It also made me thank God for the unusual string of events that caused me to be available for my friend in her time of dire need.  I had stopped by to visit her late in the week to share a test batch of cake pops.  I was already walking away thinking she wasn't home when she finally answered the door.  As she was enjoying the cake pops she asked if she could join me at the gym on Saturday.  I said "absolutely!"  I had been trying to get her to come with me for months.  So if this gym date wouldn't have been set, us being in the same place at the right time never would have happened.  What if she had her heart attack alone and unable to call for help or driving back home after she went to get her daily Starbuck's -- right before the symptoms started.  I contemplated calling an ambulance, but she said "no" and we were literally 5-6 minutes from the closest hospital.  I placed my hand on her back and prayed for her the entire ride.  

Today when I went to visit her, we talked about what happened on Saturday.  There were so many pieces that she didn't even remember.   We found laughter over the entire gym fiasco and I wrote on the board in her hospital room under the Things About Me Section; "I'll do anything to get out of going to the gym!"  Even though I knew she was going to be okay, I still cried a lot yesterday.  But at the same time, I was so deeply thankful God orchestrated the events in the manner that he did so I could be there for my friend.  She's getting the care she needs, a ton of people that have never even met her are praying for her, and her prognosis looks a lot brighter than it did yesterday.  

So what's the moral of my story?!  Tomorrow is not promised.  Your life can change in an instant with no signs, symptoms or warnings.  Make time for and peace with those you claim to love.  And the next time you see any ambulance barreling past you, stop and whisper a prayer for the person inside.  Because in many cases, they and their families have just entered into what could be the worst day of their lives.  

On the dessert side -- parents have spoken and expressed interest in a French macaron baking experiences for tweens/teens!  So I'll get something on the website this week.  I am open to suggestions on weekdays and weekend days and times that work best for that age group.   

Thanksgiving -- Tomorrow is November 1 is the "guaranteed" order by date.  November 16 is the "subject to availability" which simply means if you wait a week before to place your order we may already be booked up and close ordering earlier. 

I don't extend deadlines as it jeopardizes the production schedule for those that ordered on time.  Please place your Thanksgiving order sooner than later so you don't get left out.

Be sure to check out the pictures from the Halloween Spook-tecular Family Fun experience!




Maria Kemp
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Let your voice be heard!

Let your voice be heard!

I pretty much have my neighbors trained now.  Whenever I bring them a dessert from a new recipe, the only requirement is they give me a number rating from 1-10.  A one (1) is equal to "it was horrible" and a 10 is equal to "I'd steal the entire batch if given a window of opportunity."   After several test batches last week and then making ANOTHER batch today during the Mixed Up Cupcakes baking experience, I certainly didn't need another batch of cupcakes all to myself.  I know the recipe is a winner, but I didn't want to be tempted to have cupcakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner...again.  So I snapped my photos for social media then gathered them up to give away to some of my favorite neighbors.  I snuck a little coffee extract into the vanilla buttercream, so I think that will give the birthday cake and vanilla cupcakes a nice kick.  

I've been thinking about adding another session of the Family Spook-tecular Halloween Fun experience for kids.  Currently, the only offering is from 4:00pm-5:30pm EST.  But I was thinking about adding a later session to allow families in different time zones to participate.  I was thinking about:

  • 7:00pm - 8:30pm EST =
  • 4:00pm - 5:30pm PST =
  • 6:00pm - 7:30pm CST =
  • 5:00pm - 6:30pm MST

There is a special "entire family" price for this experience.  It does not involve use of the oven, but parents will need to participate to melt ingredients and monitor younger children. 

Let your voice be heard!  I'd love input on adding another session for this offering.  I thought on Halloween was the best choice, but please let me know if Friday or Saturday would be better so Halloween is completely clear.

Maria Kemp
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Final kids, a delicious Zoom meeting!

Final kids, a delicious Zoom meeting!

Oh how I love my to-do lists!  They keep me organized, thinking logically, and on track.  The regular Thanksgiving menu has been done and online since October 1, so I can check that off my list.  The holiday/Christmas menu has been visible since then as well, but I won't move it to the online store for a few more weeks.

Next I'm circling back with my new corporate clients to finalize orders.  However, I must have sensed some gaps in my calendar since I decided to add a baking experience series specifically for kids!  In my head I thought, "piece of cake!"  Then I realized the series of holiday baking experiences need to be created in unison -- intro, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and holiday/Christmas.  The research is done, so reworking, recipe testing, and continuing development of 3 other courses for different organizations charges forward.  

My network of friends were invaluable providing feedback on the kids series.  My own daughter is almost 35, so I don't claim to be current on all the things to consider pertaining to parents of young children.  After 45 minutes on the phone with Shopify  I finally figured out the least confusing way to offering a price break for siblings in the same house.  

This week will be brimming with excitement to see how it all goes!  I have the Halloween series almost ready to put online, but I will wait to gather feedback from the parents of the first wave of experiences.  The days and times all got 2 thumbs up from the parents, so I'm hopeful no major changes will be needed. 

Gather your friends to join your experience!  Each one has a minimum of 5 students and a maximum of 15.   Please contact me for private groups, 1-on-1, in-home, or for week day baking experiences.  

This blog is publishing ahead of the experiences in the online store, so the hyperlinks in the PDF will not work until the experiences are published later today.   

Private Virtual & On-Site Baking Experiences for Kids | Beyond Decadence

Downloadable PDF

Maria Kemp
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Baking experiences for kids & adults + Thanksgiving is 11/25....

Baking experiences for kids & adults + Thanksgiving is 11/25....

As usual my mind is a steady flurry of tasks, ideas, recipes, and things that need to make their way onto my to-do list.  After spending the last 1 hr 45 minutes watching a Jason Statham movie which was oddly disappointing, my thoughts turned to my blog.  

As I was mapping out a series of baking experiences, I had an epiphany.  Why not create a series of private virtual & on-site baking experiences for kids!  I need to separate kids and adult offerings, but this idea hit me like a lightening bolt and it'll be online in the next few days.  There are plenty of available options for adults or kids that prefer to go to a facility to take a class.  However, my offerings will focus primarily on those desiring to learn remotely via Zoom.  (I'll also offer private and an in-home option.  Of course any in-home/in-person will be subject to strict COVID restrictions.)  But for those not ready to attend in-person classes, this will be perfect for you! 

Let me take you down a little trip down memory lane about my teaching background...

Long before I started offering virtual classes here in North Carolina, I had a completely different life pre-pastry school, pre-brick & mortar bakery, and pre-IT Consultant that included teaching part-time.  I taught baking classes at a local community college in IL, private in-home classes, classes at a health center affiliated with a local hospital, a local store that conducted cooking/baking classes, and taught a variety of software applications and operating systems years ago.  I've done public speaking in auditoriums filled with 100-200 people with ease and laughter and given presentations in front of multi-million dollar industry giants.  As an extreme extrovert, I know how to "dial it down" when needed, but also rise to the occasion to present with poise, confidence, and land a $10,000 donation from a billionaire, a $5,000 scholarship for a multi-million dollar company, win pitch competitions, podcast guest, TV guest chef, and a panelist/speaker. 

I'm a firm believer that all my seemingly unrelated experiences are all part of the intricate fabric of my life's story God is still handcrafting.  Each experience builds upon another and equips me to be sufficiently prepared for the next adventure or is bringing me full circle -- the jury is still out.  I'm so excited to launch the new baking experiences!  I hope you will leave a comment or email with ideas of topics/concepts your kids would like to learn.  The adult offerings will focus on recipes to help you dazzle your holiday guests or create gifts recipients will actually love.     

BTW, just in case you are confused --Thanksgiving is the same date on the calendar every year.  So embrace it, start planning and order now.  I do NOT deviate from the order deadlines as it causes chaos, jeopardizes my production schedule and delivery dates. 

I couldn't resist the graphic, but I NEVER EVER use the fake whipped cream from a can!  Geez Louise, please Google a recipe and make it from scratch!  It takes 2-3 ingredients and under 5 minutes. 


Maria Kemp
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Dory the blue fish with yellow fins "I can't eat another bite....Oh look! Pie!"

What's your favorite Thanksgiving pie flavor?

Well I wish I could say my "baking hiatus" has been pure relaxation!  However, nothing could be further from reality and those who know me well know it's nearly impossible for me to sit entirely still.  There's plenty of backend work that requires zero time in the kitchen.  Although, I still average a minimum of 3-5 Zoom calls a week.  It's all just part of being an entrepreneur; constantly thinking, getting in front of the right people, and articulating why they shouldn't go another day without doing business with me.  Okay, maybe that was a tad dramatic, but you get the idea.  

After being in business over 4 years in North Carolina alone, I've learned a thing or two:

#1 - Stop wasting time creating an innovative Thanksgiving menu!  PIE is the only thing that matters at Thanksgiving.  Period.  I could count on one hand and have a lot of fingers left over of the other items that sell during Pie-mageddon. 

#2 - Everyone absolutely must place their order via the website.  Exceptions always lead to mayhem in the final count.

Now is the time to let you voice be heard for the flavor pies you would like to see on our Thanksgiving menu!  (The Thanksgiving menu will go live when the online store re-opens on October 1.) 

Please post a comment to this blog post with your favorite flavor!  It could end on this year’s Thanksgiving menu.  

Maria Kemp
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