Barbara Jackson was a middle-school computer teacher for 25 years before she opened O' Taste and See Pies and Quiche on East Brooks Road in October 2012.
With a single bite of one of O' Taste and See's many pie or quiche options, Jackson's choice to stop teaching makes complete sense. The perfectly browned and flaky crusts are an example of what can be achieved when a talented baker and can of Crisco cross paths.
"I do have help, but I don't let anybody else cook," Jackson says. "I really pride myself on the excellence of my product; I don't trust it to anybody at this time."
The decision to open the storefront was Jackson's attempt to focus more on her zeal for food and take her preexisting home catering business to a new level.
"Even when I was in the school system, [cooking] was always my love," she says. "I just couldn't continue doing both because it was stressing me out. And then getting home and already having someone in your driveway trying to buy a chicken salad, my privacy and everything was leaving."
Jackson's not-too-sweet and perfectly cooked pecan pie is one of O' Taste and See's best-sellers. Other flavors include lemon meringue, coconut chess, walnut, and key lime. In the quiche lineup, the chicken and spinach and the Italian sausage and spinach are the most sought-after flavors. Among the 20 or so quiches offered are the Taco Fiesta, bacon and cheese, and chicken and broccoli. The pies come in 3-inch, 4-inch, and 9-inch options, and prices range from $3.75 for a 4-inch pie to $25 for a 9-inch deep-dish pie.
Jackson cooks roughly 150 mini quiches every weekend to keep the supply stocked for walk-in customers. Jackson also fills call-in orders, with orders placed by 10 a.m. ready for pickup at 4 p.m.
Veve Yates is a longtime friend and customer of Jackson's. "You can eat one and it is very filling, but you're going to want another quiche," Yates says. "You can't just eat one. You're going to come back for more."
If a customer does not want a pie or quiche, O' Taste and See offers sandwiches, salads, and three soups of the day. A cup of red beans and rice, brimming with pieces of sausage and paired with a slice of Southern-style cornbread, is a popular selection.
Most people are greeted by name and a hug as they enter the brightly colored O' Taste and See shop, giving the business a rare community-centered ambience.
"It's a joy when you can come out and see who you're cooking for and have a conversation," Jackson says. "I know a lot of my customers who come in here by name because I get to know them."
Jackson says her passion for cooking alleviates any feelings of stress from the job.
"I don't even worry about the money, because God sends me everything that I need. He gives it to me, and I just come in and make certain that I'm doing this with excellence," Jackson says. "That's what's important to me, that the product is excellent."
O' Taste and See is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2045 E. Brooks (346-3001)