Barbara Toms of Sweet Creations Bakery
Ms. Barbara Toms grew up on fried pies. “We would take the circle of dough and fill it with apples, peaches whatever, fold it over and deep fry it.” She got it honest. Her dad had a long culinary career working for the railroad as a cook, in various restaurants, and eventually as chef at Belle Meade Country Club until he retired. Her mother too, was a great baker. Though Barbara always loved to cook, she really got inspired to start making pies when sifting through her mother’s handwritten recipes after her passing. She stumbled upon a pecan pie that though she didn’t remember eating, drew her in. She committed it to memory—which was serendipitous, since sadly, all of her mother’s recipes were later lost in a kitchen fire. That special pecan pie (with a few tweaks) is what started Sweet Creations Bakery.
Her friend, Sharon Hurt, requested that Barbara make that pie for her friend’s birthday—the recipient just so happened to be the VP of snack sales at Mapco Gas Stations. He raved about it, and shortly thereafter she was in all the Mapcos in the region. Though Barbara hadn’t baked as a profession—she practiced law for 25 years and a few years ago and her Divinity degree from Vanderbilt—she’s seen her careers “surprisingly, all intersect” she says. The law drove me to the Lord and the pies help me start a conversation.” She believes pies level the playing field, “everyone can have a conversation over a piece of pie.”
It was 2009 when she started making the pecan pie at her home church, “the 15th Avenue Baptist Church located on 9th Avenue,” she laughs. Barbara moved into her current location on Jefferson street through a federal grant aimed at renewing jobs in the area. (Businesses had been disrupted in the area since the interstate was built.) She received the grant and opened her bakery in August of 2016. She thinks of Sweet Creations as bringing an old idea back to a new community.” She also will be partnering with organizations like Monroe Harding to give impoverished youths a job in the culinary industry, in particular youths who are aging out of the foster system.
Barbara Toms keeps her pies simple. Sweet Potato, Chocolate Fudge, Pecan and Apple are fall flavors with bourbon thrown into the pecan for the holidays.