Q&A: Baker, entrepreneur and host Carrie Morey talks ‘How She Rolls’
January 13, 2022 Leave a Comment
Thursday nights are about culinary delights on PBS Wisconsin this winter!
Along with a new season of Wisconsin Foodie premiering 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, PBS Wisconsin welcomes award-winning baker, cookbook author and entrepreneur Carrie Morey to its lineup with her new show, How She Rolls, premiering 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20.
Morey lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2005 she founded Callie’s Charleston Biscuits (now known as Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit), a made-by-hand mail order biscuit company that she transformed into a booming culinary business.
How She Rolls follows Morey’s life as she balances being a wife and a mom to three daughters with the pressures of being a business owner in what became an unpredictable year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the premiere of How She Rolls, PBS Wisconsin spoke with Morey about the new show, the importance of mentorship and, of course, Southern cuisine.
PBS Wisconsin: What inspired the creation of the show?
Carrie Morey: I had been approached a few other times to do a show about my story, and it just didn’t feel right because it was never the right opportunity. And then I got a call from a production company that had done a fair amount of work with public television, and they asked me if I would be interested. I said I would be interested because it felt like with PBS and public television in general, I could trust the process and trust that it was a safe place for myself and my family to be able to share our story without being overexposed and sensationalized.
As a female entrepreneur raising a family, I feel like that story had not yet been told — the balance and the difficulty of growing a business on your own without investors, super scrappy growing it organically, slowly and steadily, and balancing a family and making your family a priority. I feel like a lot of times either female business owners come to me and say, I can’t figure out how to make it all work. My hope was obviously to get exposure for my brand, but secondly, equally as importantly, was hopefully to inspire other women that you can do it all. When you make your priority your family, it makes you more focused, which in turn will make you more successful.
PBS Wisconsin: Did your family have a business background prior to you starting Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005?
Morey: My dad was in business for himself. He was an investment advisor. My mom had a very small catering business, my grandfather was in business for himself, my husband is in business for himself and my father-in-law is also in business for himself. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that I look back on it, I definitely have had a lot of self-starters, entrepreneurs in my life, so maybe there was a connection there, but I never thought that I would be my own boss.
It was never a goal of mine in college or even after college to start my own business until I wanted to figure out how to have both, meaning be a present mom and combine my passion of food with a business. I think when you know what your priority is and you know what your passion is, being able to combine both of those helps you become really focused on dreaming about the life that you want to live. That is what I think has been the key to my success is making me super focused on this is how I want my life to be and this is what I want for it and this is what I love to do, so how can I combine all those things and have the perfect recipe for success?
PBS Wisconsin: Mentorship is a big element in your first season. Who were some of your mentors?
Morey: My biggest mentor was my father, who has always been a huge part of my life and always my biggest cheerleader who I can go to when things aren’t going well. I can always count on him for a positive outlook on things. Knowing that he made a very successful business out of nothing and fear of making sure that you put food on the table and coming from humble beginnings is a really great motivator. And then fear of failure, too.
My father has been a huge part of my journey and a huge inspiration to me in more ways than just business. There have been so many people along the way that have also been a part of that, whether that’s peers, other female business owners or people like Nathalie Dupree who is the original biscuit queen and just an incredible cheerleader for women and women in business and encouraging me and others. I remember going to her when I wanted to write my first cookbook and saying, “I have no business doing this, but do you think that I should?”
Just having someone like that to cheer you on and encourage you and tell you that you can do it, even when you don’t have the credentials to do it, has always been lovely. I would say those are the two that really stand out immediately for me.
PBS Wisconsin: How do you approach mentorship?
Morey: I always tell people, I will do anything I can to help you. I don’t know that I can help, but I’ll tell you all the mistakes I made and help you to not make them. I don’t pretend to be an expert — I was an elementary education major in college so I do not have any formal business background or training, but I think being scrappy, having street smarts, going with your gut and having a good intuition really helps and being passionate about what you’re doing. And making lots of mistakes and using that as my formal education because when you make a mistake, you try really hard not to make it twice. We learn a lot. In fact, we don’t really say “failures,” we say learnings because they’re very valuable.
PBS Wisconsin: There are so many great celebrity chefs and bakers. Growing up or even today, do you have any favorite television chefs or bakers who inspire you?
Morey: I go back to Nathalie [Dupree] because to me she’s like the Southern Julia Child and she’s just amazing. I’m grateful for our friendship and the mentorship she has given me.
PBS Wisconsin: In your opinion and experience, why are people fascinated by the American South and its foods?
Morey: I feel like food and dining has really come into fashion in the last 20 years, more so than it ever has before. In the past, only really fancy, high-end food has been celebrated, and Southern food is the exact opposite of that. It is humble, it is made for anybody and everybody. I always talk about biscuits – some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had have been at a roadside gas station for 80 cents. But they can also be elevated and served on silver platters at the finest cocktail party. And number two, the fact that Southern food is comfort and there’s always a story about it and it’s always a part of somebody’s tradition.
It is just ingrained in us and as a Southerner, I have been raised to celebrate and commiserate with food. Everything that we do revolves around food and it’s creating memories and tradition with our family and friends. Food is a lot of times sustenance. People eat it to live. But in the South, we live to eat. And we love to feed people. It is our language. I feel like you really cannot truly know someone until you have sat down and broken bread, or should I say broken biscuits, with them. When you share a meal with someone, it’s very personal. If I invite you to my house, I want to share my life with you. There’s a lot of love and emotion and mostly comfort that comes along with Southern cooking. It has so much more meaning than a meal.
PBS Wisconsin: Do you have a favorite moment from the first season of How She Rolls?
Morey: If I had to pick one, it would probably be the Thanksgiving episode. Going along the lines of how important food is to us, Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year, and it has definitely become our children’s favorite. Within that episode, I love the time that I spent with my Aunt Gayle down at her family’s house where we have Thanksgiving every year, and her teaching me how to make oyster pie, which is a recipe that came from many, many years of her family – who are now deceased – making that traditionally and passing it down to me. I think there’s something so powerful to that, to hearing the stories of our older generation and what this meal meant to them and how they remember eating it. And passing it down to me, there’s nothing more important.
PBS Wisconsin: Have you learned anything about yourself or your family or food by hosting this show?
Morey: Going back and watching with our family, I’ve always known that food was a huge part of our life, but I don’t think when you’re in it, you realize how important it is. I knew it was important to me, but I think the show gave me the opportunity to reflect and see how much I had passed that down to my girls. I hadn’t seen that because you’re just living it and your lives are so busy. That is probably what I’m most proud of.
It’s equally important to them and their love of it and wanting to share it with their friends. I don’t remember being that excited about Thanksgiving dinner. Our girls were super excited for it. I love that. I love that we have created this space where they are going to be excited about the things that I’m excited about, at such a young age.
PBS Wisconsin: What do you hope viewers take away from How She Rolls?
Morey: If I had only one thing that I wanted them to take away from the show, it would be that when you are your authentic self and you share that authenticity with people that good things will come and that it’s easy.
People ask me all the time, “Was it so hard to have the cameras filming you and in your house all the time?” I think I thought that it would be difficult to have a microphone on me at all times and what would that do with our children? But we really encouraged “Just be yourself,” and as long as you’re yourself, your authentic self, you have nothing to hide and hopefully that will continue to breed confidence and self assuredness and that to me is what I’m most proud of with the show.
I’m not an actor. I don’t want to act, and I didn’t want to do anything that isn’t what I would have already done and that was super important to me. Just like when it’s time to be done with the show, it will be time to be done and I’ll be okay with that because I’m not trying to do anything other than be engaging and tell my authentic story.