Barbara Jackson is a woman blessed with a gift to cook. She runs from the title of chef but the taste and presentation of her food places her with the best of the best. As humble as they come, Jackson proves that with hard work and dedication to your passion, dreams do come true.
Carlee McCullough: How did you get started in the food business?
Barbara Jackson: I received an Easy Bake Oven in second grade for Christmas. I got two boxes of cake mix, white and chocolate. My mom loved nuts, so I added nuts to the top of the chocolate mix and actually made a brownie before I even knew what a brownie was. I continued to add different nuts to the tops. Later, I attempted to make other stuff in the Easy Bake Oven and burned it up. The wattage was not strong enough for what I wanted to do.
CM: What do you sell at O'Taste and See?
BJ: I have an array of desserts and entrees. As far as dessert is concerned, my best seller is my buttermilk chess pie that I also serve in three additional different flavors: coconut, chocolate and lemon. My second best seller is my pecan pie, which also comes as a chocolate pecan pie. We have sweet potato pie, along with a coconut variety as well. I make key lime, lemon and a millionaire pie. Brownies are another favorite. We sell cheesecake brownies and regular brownies with nuts.
Our lunch items include: chicken salad, turkey and ham melts, salads, stuffed eggs, club sandwiches, and our most popular chicken fried club which has olives, bread and butter pickles, red onions, lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese, and bacon served on oat grain bread.
CM: Wow. I am getting hungry. What is a millionaire pie?
BJ: I call it my ritzy pie because it has milk, whipped cream, pineapple, served on a graham cracker crust.
CM: What motivated you to produce a dessert line?
BJ: My mother served as my motivation and inspiration. She was a wonderful cook. We grew up with her cooking for other families. Whenever she cooked she always had a wonderful presentation. She prepared cobblers and cakes. Every Friday we had wonderful desserts after dinner. She left a great legacy that I just kind of leaned on and it has carried me.
CM: Do you cater as well?
BJ: Yes. We design a menu for each client's special needs.
CM: What motivated you to move into a retail space?
BJ: I was busting out of the seams working from the house. I had eight refrigerators, two stoves and a walk in at my storage. It was time to move out of the house. So it was time to move it into a retail location.
CM: What's next for you?
BJ: I would like to see my products placed in a few particular locations. We are working on it now. We would like to move more into the mass production and distribution side of the business and distribute our products in bulk to other retailers or distributors.
CM: What advice would you give to others interested in getting in the business?
BJ: Trust GOD and get off the porch because you may be holding someone else back. You never know who is watching you and who you inspire by your actions. Surround yourself with people that believe in your dreams.
CM: What advice would you give someone ready to go from part time to full time?
BJ: Bloom where you are planted. If it is your passion and gift, GOD gives you an energy that you do not get from anywhere else. I would work a full time job and work into the night because it was my passion. Don't wait. Get started where you are and it will evolve because GOD will let you know when it is time. You just have to listen.
CM: How do you balance your business and professional life?
BJ: You have to know that you cannot just be all one thing. I learned balance by teaching school. Balance is why I close at 5 p.m. and moved the business from my home. I never felt like I was not working at home. My family has also helped to keep me balanced and grounded.
CM: Did you have a business plan?
BJ: No I did not. I just knew that my food was good enough to please most. I had the support and guidance of some business-minded folks, like Mark Yates, that spent hours upon hours with me. He pushed his own work aside to help me.
CM: Any last words?
BJ: Pray before you get off of the porch and allow GOD to present you.
At A Glance
• O'Taste & See Simply Delicious Pies and Quiche
• Owner: Barbara Jackson
• Address: 2045 E. Brooks Road
• Hours: 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday
• Website: www.OTasteAndSeePiesAndQuiche.com