Carrie Morey of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is on a roll
Biscuits just might be the unofficial food of the South. Poll just about any Southerner, and he’ll recall his own biscuit memories. Mine center on my mother’s small biscuits that disappeared in just two bites, made by her aluminum biscuit cutter, the wooden knob worn from years of use. As an angsty teenager, the aroma of her Saturday morning biscuits floated from the petite galley kitchen to my bedroom and was one of the few things that could pull me out of slumber at a decent hour. As heavenly as those Saturday biscuits were, the real treat came on Sundays when leftover biscuits were drenched in butter and toasted to crispy perfection. My mouth waters as I recall them.
Carrie hopes to preserve those very memories and traditions through her company, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. In 2005, Carrie was among the first to create a restaurant focused almost entirely on slinging biscuits. Not knowing how the idea would go over with the masses, her first Callie's Hot Little Biscuit store was built in an alley space on King Street in Charleston. Today, beyond her original outpost, she has three additional locations, one in Charleston, one in Charlotte, and one in Atlanta, along with a food truck affectionately known as Butter, and a thriving online retail business. This past spring, Carrie invited television audiences into her home through her PBS docuseries, “How She Rolls,” and just this fall, she released her second cookbook, “Hot Little Suppers.” When asked what it takes to make a great biscuit, she doesn’t hesitate: “You have to have four things: flour, fat, liquid, and love.” Carrie divulges more about her business, her latest ventures, and her holiday traditions below.
You openly share your biscuit recipe. Why is it important for you to share the recipe versus keeping it a secret?
I'll never forget when The Washington Post told us they wanted to do a story on me but said we had to share the recipe. At the time, I really struggled with it, but it made sense that the more people reviving the art of making biscuits by hand, the better off I would be. I stand firmly behind that initial decision to share it with the world, and now we share it on the back of White Lily Flour bags. You can even google it! Our business has grown tenfold since that first day that we gave it away.
How did the PBS docuseries, “How She Rolls,” come to be?
I always thought that if an opportunity arises, and it's a perfect opportunity, I would consider doing a television show. It was authentic and not contrived and exactly as I thought it might happen. Timing is everything, and you have to wait for the right opportunity. That’s how really good things start.
What would people be surprised to learn about filming a docuseries?
I had a little bit of concern before doing it that it was going to be very invasive and stressful. I've been on “Top Chef,” and I've been blessed to have had a lot of on-camera opportunities. I had a good feeling about the production company and the humans working for it. I just got really lucky.
While watching the series, I was impressed with how much you have going on in your life, and how you handle it with such grace.
Clearly, I like to be busy on a frenetic level; that's why I have an online business, a wholesale business, and four bakeshops. I mean, it's insane, and I'm not saying that in a good way. I'm saying it's insane that I have created this craziness. But when I take a step back and don't work, I don't like the way that feels. I love to be busy.
Your second cookbook, “Hot Little Suppers,” was released this fall. Tell me more about it!
“Hot Little Suppers” is a window into my current life. I wanted to explore how you can get food on the table, work a full day, take your kids to practice, and then hold a dinner party on the weekend. The food [in the cookbook] is delicious and satisfying and scrumptious, but it's also doable. There's nothing fancy about it. It's an authentic picture of the way we cook and live.
In the book, you give hot little tips, such as what to serve as a side dish or drink, but you also share how to have conversations with your kids. Did you intend to take that approach with the book, or did current events weave it in?
We've been having those kinds of conversations with our children since they were old enough to sit in the high chair, but it became very important for me to vocalize that I've always had those conversations, and that everybody should take note and do the same. It’s never too early to start having those conversations. And this is where it all starts, right? It comes from around the dinner table.
What are some of your holiday traditions?
Growing up, my mom has always had a Christmas Eve party, and even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her, I always went to the Christmas Eve party, and I was allowed to invite my friends. That's where the hand biscuits really got their start. She always had ham biscuits. We always had homemade Oreos, too, which is another product of ours. Then I started my own traditions with my family. We make grits on Christmas Eve in our slow cooker, which is now a big menu item and always has been at Hot Little Biscuit. We have a grits bar; we have a biscuit bar. So, all of the menu items, all of the things that we sell at Callie's, were born authentically from the things that we truly eat.
Is there a recipe from “Hot Little Suppers” that you would recommend specifically for the holiday season?
I would say the cinnamon biscuits because those are our breakfast morning treat. Also, the eggnog. When I think of Christmas, I think about eggnog because we always have eggnog at our Christmas Eve party, but then we have enough left over to put in our morning coffee. A little nip of eggnog in your morning coffee makes Christmas morning even more fabulous.
You started Callie's Hot Little Biscuit in 2005. What would 2021 Carrie tell 2005 Carrie?
Girl, slow down! Timing is everything. It will happen. Keep dreaming, and your dreams will become a reality. But you’ve got to keep dreaming, and you’ve got to keep going forward. You're not going to fail. You have to believe in yourself. You have to let yourself dream and dream and dream and dream. It will become your reality.
Makes about 2/3 cup
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a rubber spatula, or whip with a handheld mixer.
- Transfer to a ramekin, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge, or roll into a log on plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use.