Milwaukee Man Bakes Pies That Can Remind You Of Your Grandma


By Zac Schultz | November 7, 2018

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Johnathan Dye calls out to folks, “We got free pie samples folks! You’re gonna hurt my feelings if you don’t try my pie, c’mon.” He lures in customers at a local farmers’ market in Milwaukee. Johnathan Dye explains, “Pie is universal, and it can be a bridge.”

Dye uses his pies as a bridge to meet new customers. “Sometime’s it a culture shock for some people. You know, I’m black and Puerto Rican,” he says. “I’m from the city, and I’m from the hood. Sometimes just looking at me, people they don’t know how to take me at first.”

Growing up Dye was the middle child of his family. He would watch as his grandmother cooked. “You can only hang out in the kitchen so long before they put you to work. That’s how you learn.”

While in an Asian grocery store, he discovered Okinawan purple yams. Between jobs, he said the light bulb went off. “Wow. I could already make a pretty good sweet potato pie.” His pie business grew slowly in the beginning. Later he would be called the “Pie Guy.” “It’s awesome, you know, to be recognized for something that you do.”

Pie has a special place in Dye’s heart. “From my grandma I learned how to take care of people with food. Pie can remind you of your grandma. It can bring a warm feeling back. That is very necessary. It’s not a necessity but it’s close.”

Zac Schultz

Zac Schultz is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project who thinks three-minute stories and one-line bio descriptions are woefully brief.
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2018-11-14T22:37:23+00:00 Tags: , |

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