Chef, Entrepreneur, and Curator of NC Made
sharing the rich food legacy of the South,
one bite at a time
IT ALL STARTED WITH PECANS
As a little girl growing up in Chapel Hill, I remember sitting in front of the fireplace with my grandmother, Mildred Council (Mama Dip), watching as she’d take two pecans in her fist and smash them until the pecans fell apart. She’d then throw the pecans in one bucket and the shells in another. From time to time, I’d sneak a handful of pecans and stuff them into my mouth, until she finally caught on. She’d say, “Tonya, you’re eating them faster than I can shell them, and if you keep it up, I won’t have enough for my pies!”
One day, I decided I’d try to crack my own pecans. I took two in my fist and tried with all my might to crack them, squirming and jumping up and down, but I just couldn’t do it. My grandmother laughed and said, “Maybe you should try it this way for a while.” She took a pecan out of my hand, sat it on the brick fireplace and smashed the shell into little pieces. I was so excited. I did one, then another and another, until it was time for bed.
From then on, that became my way of helping my grandmother cook, cracking pecans for her pies. Those pecans eventually found their way into my first batch of cookies - Pecan Crisps – and launched Tonya’s Cookies. Today, I’m proud to carry on my grandmother’s legacy, sharing delicious baked goods and some of the finest Southern products, all handcrafted by local artisans.
You could say I’m nuts about our Southern small businesses. Thanks, grandma!
COOKIES, PIES, AND A LOVE FOR ALL THINGS NC MADE
Sweet Tea & Cornbread is a curated selection of locally crafted goods that reflect the "gift of southern charm." #SHOPSOUTH and support our local makers, or visit our cafe at the NC Museum of History.