After the loss of her husband this past May, Suzi Romero had a huge void in her life. Through cooking, and making others smile, she was able to fill it.
A resident of New Iberia for most of her life, Romero was down and looking for an outlet after her husband Paul’s death. Through her passion for cooking, she soon found it.
“I was kind of lost for a while and I had to regroup and determine what I was going to do with my spare time,” Romero said.
With the encouragement of her two children and five grandchildren, Romero started making two of her specialties, sweet dough pies and homemade chili this past June.
“It kinda started out as a hobby of mine,” Romero said.
Romero works part-time at the Miracle-Ear Hearing Aid Center in Lafayette but her spare time away from work is spent in the kitchen, cooking for others, which is the thing she enjoys most.
During one of those times in her kitchen, Romero said she found a sweet dough pie recipe that she tweaked a few times until she was satisfied with the outcome.
She was pleased at the response from friends and family for her pies, and afterwards Romero was ready for a new challenge.
With a “Welcome to Granny’s” sign displayed high and proud, Romero started selling her pies at the Teche Area Festival and Farmer’s market on Main Street in New Iberia. After the success she saw with sweets, Romero started making chilli.
“I’ve always made chili,” Romero said. “My kids loved my homemade chili. I made it for hot dogs, corn chips and nachos.”
Romero said one of her kids suggested she could sell her chili alongside her pies so she gave it a try and has enjoyed everything it has brought her in her life.
“I do it(cook) to fill a void and I like seeing people enjoy what I cook,” Romero said. “It just blesses my heart when I see someone try something and say, ‘Oh that’s so good.’”
That joy is evident, especially in her hand-made sweet dough pies, also known as hand-pies. It’s a sweet dough, akin to a sugar cookie dough, with a fruit filling.
“And you fill it with fruit, or jam or custard and you bake it,” Romero said.”And it turns out to be a sweet dough pie.”
Initially, Romero made up to 10 flavors of pies but because fruits like strawberries and pineapple are out of season, she’s whittled the variety down for now. Romero said it’s because she likes to make her own fillings with fresh fruits that are in season, and she had already adjusted her recipe before so she’s not looking to change it.
“I get my peaches from Ruston, I make sure my strawberries are from Ponchatoula,” Romero said.
Some of her best sellers include apple, blueberry, lemon sweet potato and because it’s turning to fall, Romero is set to launch a pumpkin spice flavor of sweet dough pie.
The pumpkin spice flavor has been requested for some time now, and because she likes to make others happy, Romero was more than willing with her new filling.
“If it’s going to make them happy, then it’s going to make me happy,” Romero said. “I’m very passionate about it, I really enjoy it.”
For her chili recipe, Romeo said she doesn’t want to give away too many secrets, but she had one tip — low and slow is the key.
“I used ground chuck and only ground chuck,” Romero said.
Whether it’s rolling out dough and filling it with fruit or spending the day making a deep, rich pot of chili, Romore loves what she does because it’s for someone else.
“I’ve always loved making people happy,” she said. “When I can make someone who doesn’t look like they are having a good day smile, it blesses my heart. The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.”