City Scene

Bud’s Best Inducted into Baking Hall of Fame

February 27, 2017 founder of Birmingham based Bud’s Best Cookies, Bud Cason, will be inducted into the prestigious Baking Hall of Fame

Bud Cason, Founder and Chairman of Birmingham-based Bud’s Best Cookies, will soon be inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame by the American Society of Baking (A.S.B.). The award recognizes industry innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Individuals are selected for their achievements in organizational growth and development, equipment design and innovation, advancements in ingredient technology and processing or related service to the commercial baking industry. “The lives and careers of these individuals provide wonderful examples of excellence and leadership,” said John Del Campo, chair of the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee. “They represent the best qualities of compassion, forward thinking and personal judgment. The committee feels honored to have looked at their accomplishments. They inspire our future by their experience.”

Cason practically invented the category of mini-cookies by being the first to master the mass production of these bite-size treats, now found at convenience stores all around the country and

unnamed-2on Later, he added full-size cookies and, most recently, wafer products to the product line of his business. He is also very active in his community and church and generously supports their causes, charities and initiatives. “Since I was 12-years-old working in my aunt’s bakery, I always knew that I wanted to own my own cookie factory,” said Cason. “Being inducted into the Bakers Hall of Fame is such an honor and makes me realize all of my dreams have come to fruition.”
unnamedSince its launch in 2006, the Baking Hall of Fame will have enshrined 76 individuals with the 2017 class. They come from all walks of life in the baking industry — from bakeries, allied equipment and ingredient suppliers, schools, service organizations and publishers. Their accomplishments can be read at
Learn more about Bud’s Best at†

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Special Feature

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano & Her Southern Ladies


“It really has been a journey—a real journey of faith and stepping out,” Phyllis Hoffman DePiano says of growing Hoffman Media since 1983. The company offers titles in both print and digital editions but the majority of her subscribers prefer print. “Our readers are twofold: those who love the experience of turning pages and those escaping from screens,” she says. “The tactical experience of reading printed pages brings such joy and satisfaction.”

In 1983 Phyllis Hoffman toted a pillowcase full of checks into a Birmingham bank to open a business account. The act spoke of her unconventionality as a business woman in the 80s starting her own company and publishing a magazine. Retired from public accounting and parenting twins, she decided to launch Just CrossStitch with her sister and two friends. They needed 3,500 subscribers to break even on publishing costs each month, and she had 3,500 subscribers, paid up front, before the first issue even went to press. Since then, Hoffman Media has grown to 12 women’s interest and lifestyle magazines including Southern Lady and Cooking with Paula Deen and Phyllis’ life has become permanently woven into a community of talented Southern women whose stories often hinge on faith.


“She always says God has a sense of humor,” Birmingham publisher Phyllis Hoffman DePiano says of friend Paula Deen.

Her Southern Ladies. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hoffman Media, Phyllis has developed relationships with some of the South’s most talented and reputable women. She has sung “Amazing Grace” on stage with Designing Women actress Dixie Carter and has been a prayer partner with television journalist and legal analyst Nancy Grace, who went to law school to become a felony prosecutor after her fiancée was murdered in 1979. However, Phyllis is perhaps best known for her relationship with Paula Deen. She featured the celebrity chef and television personality in Southern Lady as “Southern Lady of the Year” in 2004 then worked alongside Deen to launch the magazine Cooking with Paula Deen in 2005. In one of their earliest photo shoots, Phyllis recalls a disaster with a slippery bubble bath that still makes them giggle to this day. “Paula wanted to do a photo shoot of her in the bathtub, which cracked me up. But I said we’ve got to have a lot of bubbles because it’s got to come up to your neck,” she remembers. “When Paula got in the tub, she sank to the bottom. All I could see was her blue eyes peeking out of the bubbles. She couldn’t sit up because it was so slick, so I had to drag her out. She’ll tell you today I tried to drown her, which is so funny.”


DePiano’s twin sons serve as co-presidents at Hoffman Media. Eric (left) is also Chief Operations Officer, and Brian is Chief Creative Officer. They are both graduates of Briarwood High School.

Her Strength in God. Raised in a Christian home, Phyllis attended Lakeside Baptist Church with her parents and became a church organist and pianist in the 8th grade. She still plays today, as a substitute organist for Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, and says while there is a danger of complacency when growing up in the church, faith often becomes more personal when saddled with a major life change. For Phyllis, change came in the form of divorce from her first husband in 2008. “You don’t grow up planning to be divorced. You don’t grow up planning that you have a broken home. No one ever thinks, ‘I am going to have a major problem in my life,’” she says. “The beauty is God forgives us and wipes the slate clean, and we have an opportunity to start over. The foot of the cross is level. There’s not a pyramid of better than thou, holier than thou. We are all sinners, and we are all forgiven by the blood of Jesus, and that’s where I find my strength.”

It was Phyllis’ work on Cooking with Paula Deen that led her to her second husband, Neal DePiano, who is a Battalion Chief with the Hoover Fire Department and worked as a contractor on Deen’s kitchen remodels in his off time. “We had worked together for years on a professional level where he would handle the construction and working with the designers,” Phyllis remembers. “He had gone through a divorce and then when I did, we started dating. It was like wow, dating one of your friends… then we realized we were in love and God had brought us together.” The couple married at Neal’s ranch on Dec. 23, 2009.


The DePianos will celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary December 23. Neal met Phyllis while working as a contractor for Cooking with Paula Deen. He is currently doing a total restoration on an English stone home in Birmingham that will be featured in Cottage Journal and Southern Home next year.

Her Message for Women. People love to try new things, Phyllis says, and that’s part of what has solidified the success of her magazines and Birmingham’s success as a publishing town in general. Women with beautiful gardens are willing to try their hand at turning their flowers into a beautiful centerpiece. They want to learn to bake fresh bread. They want to decorate for the holidays in new ways. And when Phyllis’ readers take a new skill or hobby and turn it into a business, it makes her proud. It’s reminiscent of her segway into business ownership in the crafting sector more than 30 years ago. Besides encouragement to take a chance on creativity and entrepreneurship, Phyllis says the greatest message women need to hear from friends and mentors is that nothing can separate them from the love of God. “My life is a testimony of grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. All Christians struggle at some point in time with something. And that’s where your faith has to come in as restorative,” she says, noting that older Christian women need to realize the impact they can have by sharing this reassurance with the younger women in their lives. “If there’s something that’s happened in your life that has kind of shaken you from your roots, you [may] realize at the end of the day all you have and all you need is the Lord. Everywhere in the Bible when people encountered Jesus and were touched by the Master, their lives started over. You can’t relive your life—it’s not a do-over—but it always is a start over. Whenever you need that forgiveness and starting over in your life, God is faithful. Everyone has that same opportunity.”

– Camille Platt


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Perfect Holiday Dessert: Lucy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake


  1. 9 whole honey maid chocolate graham cracker
  2. 20 whole gingersnapunnamed
  3. 1 stick butter
  4. 1⁄4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  5. 32 oz cream cheese, softened
  6. 15 oz pumpkin pureed pie filling
  7. 1 1⁄4 cup sugar
  8. 4 whole eggs
  9. 1 1⁄4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  10. 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  11. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place graham crackers and ginger snaps in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until cookies become crumbs. Add pumpkin pie spice and melted butter. Continue to pulse until well combined. Spread mixture in a 8-9 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press crust in the pan and up the sides 1/4-1/2 inch. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, allowing one to incorporate before adding the next. Remove two cups of batter to a bowl. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the remaining batter in the bowl. Combine well. Pour half of the pumpkin batter over the crust in the pan. Spread evenly. Dollop half of the plain batter over the top of the pumpkin batter in crust. Pour the remaining pumpkin batter over the top. Dollop the second half of the plain batter over the top of the second layer of pumpkin batter in crust. Using a knife, create a swirl design by making long strokes through the pumpkin and plain batters. Bake for one hour until center set. If using a water bath- wrap the pan in two layers of aluminum foil leaving the top exposed. Place wrapped pan in a baking dish or roasting pan and fill pan with water to the half way level of the cheesecake pan. After cheesecake is baked, immediately remove wrapped cheesecake out of the water bath. Remove foil, and allow cheesecake to cool.

– Chef Lucy Greer, Greer’s Market & Cateringunnamed-1

For more recipes from Lucy visit

SEND US ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE RECIPES to share with Birmingham Christian Family readers!

Email to:, Subject Line: Potluck

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Dining Out with Comedienne Joy

Have a Soul Food Thanksgiving with Jake’s Soul Food Café

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-30-pmI’m an Alabama girl who grew up spending Thanksgiving Eve helping mom cook dinner or making side dishes so the entire family could celebrate the holiday together. I looked down on people who catered holiday meals until juggling food blogging, comedy, community service, radio hosting and being an entrepreneur got the best of me. Last year I saw a post from one of my favorite spots, Jake’s Soul Food Café, saying let us cater your sides. The light bulb came on and I’m forever grateful to them for saving my Thanksgiving! If you prefer to eat fresh cooked vegetables with your turkey, Jake’s is the answer. Their collard greens always taste like mama made them and the sweet potato casserole is so ridiculous I want to order a pan of it and sit it in my lap and eat it- so buttery and not too sweet. It reminds me of a sweet potato pie without the crust. And don’t forget to compliment your veggies with mac and cheese. Jake’s is so cheesy and creamy and baked to perfection.

Jake’s Soul Food Café has typically specialized in Caribbean food such as jerk chicken, curry chicken, shrimp, rice & beans topped with a golden fried plantain and beef patties. Since their move to Hoover off Highway 150 behind the Mercedes Dealership, they have added more soul food items to the menu such as oxtails with a Caribbean flavor, pork chops and gravy, shrimp and grits, and some very large turkey wings in a golden sauce. And Jake’s remains my number one spot when it comes to fried chicken wings. In my premier episode of “Dining Out With Comedienne Joy,” I gave a class on how to eat by favorite food, chicken wings, and of course I used Jake’s wings.

So spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen this Thanksgiving by ordering dinner from my friends at Jake’s Soul Food Café- friends I trust for an amazing meal time after time. They can be reached at (205) 438-6340.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-16-pm-Comedienne Joy 

If you would like to be featured on “Dining Out with Comedienne Joy” email

Catch “Dining Out With Comedienne Joy” every Saturday 8:30 a.m. on WABM My 68                    



Comedienne Joy gives a thumbs up for Jake’s Soul Food Café! Visit them at 3075 John Hawkins Pkwy, Hoover, 35244, 205-438-6340.



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City Scene

Collard Green Cook-off & Wellness Expo

October 15 from Noon to 5 p.m. Urban Ministry will host its 8th Annual Collard Green Cook-off and Wellness Expo, a celebration promoting the healthy living programs at the ministry located at 1229 Cotton Avenue S.W. Tour the community gardens, watch cooking demonstrations, connect with traditional and non-traditional health practitioners, purchase from local vendors, sample healthy collard greens and cornbread and listen to live music. Collard green cook-off competitors who reside in West End’s five communities will vie for bragging rights and offer the best of their healthy, creative, culinary recipes with no pork included. “We see this fun-filled day as a way to engage in preventative awareness rather than just treatment,” said Urban Ministry Wellness Programs Director Ama Shambulia. Urban Ministry was founded in 1978 by the United Methodist Church in Birmingham with a mission to serve poor and low-income persons in the inner city with programs of compassion and wholeness, †

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City Scene

Garden Party: Taste of Hoover

The 5th Annual Taste of Hoover is an opportunity to taste 35 to 40 of Hoover’s best restaurants in the beautifully lighted setting of Aldridge Gardens. The bonus is your support will help the not for profit Gardens to be maintained and continue to offer services and events throughout the year. The event October 6 from 5-8pm comes complete with white tablecloth settings and live entertainment. Participating restaurants include Edgar’s Bakery, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Cowboy Chicken, Chicken Salad Chick, The Boot, Shula’s Steakhouse, Spoon and Ladle, Jake’s Soul Food Café, Bare Naked Noodles, Joe’s Crab Shack and more. For tickets and details visit †

Enjoy Taste of Hoover October 5 at Aldridge Gardens, 3530 Lorna Road, Hoover








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Dining Out with Comedienne Joy

Soul Food & MORE from Trophy Wings

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-30-pmBirmingham’s own, Comedienne Joy is beginning her second season of  “Dining Out with Comedienne Joy” on WABM My 68. “With Birmingham becoming such a foodie town, the show on Saturday mornings  gives us the opportunity to have our own food network every week,” says host Comedienne Joy.“It is also a great way for local eateries to show off some of their most popular dishes and to spotlight many hidden gems.” As an added bonus, Joy will share each month in Birmingham Christian Family magazine great places in our area for you and your family to dine.

This month’s feature is Trophy Wings.

Trophy Wings is a gas station restaurant in Lincoln, Ala. that not only serves my favorite food…chicken, but screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-02-pmon Sundays they also offer an array of soul food entrees such as baked Greek chicken and dressing, oxtails, hamburger steak and gravy, chicken and gravy, mac and cheese, yams and collard greens. In fact, up to 20 people were lined up waiting to get some of the #GoodEats before the noon serving time. The diverse crowd waiting for comfort food from Trophy Wings told me this is “the best food in town.” Of course after I tasted it, I had to agree. The Greek chicken was well seasoned and tender along with some gravy and dressing that tasted like your mama made it! One of my favorites was the Philly cheesesteak french fries. Imagine eating well seasoned Philly cheese toppings, melted cheese, peppers and onions on a bed of warm French fries. It’s so big that it was a complete meal! Trophy Wings also has over 10 flavors of wings and you can get them cooked naked or battered. The newest flavor is pixie dust and mild garlic parmesan! Go to to watch my full video visit to Trophy Wings and visit them at the Shell gas station on Highway 78 in Lincoln. Trust me, it’s worth the drive! Remember the places I take you, the food is so good it makes you want to lie down! Follow @ComedienneJoy on FB, Twitter & Instagram.


-Comedienne Joy

If you would like to be featured on “Dining Out with Comedienne Joy” email

Catch Dining Out With Comedienne Joy every Saturday 8:30 a.m. on WABM My                                                               68


                                                        Comedienne Joy gives a thumbs up for Trophy Wings!

                                                        Visit them on 47720 US Highway 78 in Lincoln, 35096, 205-763-178

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Faith at Work

A Call to Service: KATS Grocery Delivery
unnamed“Compassionate, Respectful, Dependable” are the core values on which KATS Grocery Delivery operates as a part of its mission to “make our clients life easier by delivering exceptional service.” The idea for the Birmingham based business grew out of a need KATS owner Maurice Mercer first witnessed after his mother was diagnosed with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disability that limited her ability to do even the most normal of day to day activities, including her own grocery shopping. While Mercer lived close enough and was able to shop for his mom, the former UAB charge nurse began to think of those who did not have the support she did.

“Even In her sickness,” remembers Mercer, “She was thinking about others. How can we help others?” The two discussed the start of a grocery delivery service with the option for delivery from multiple stores. “The Lord kept putting on my heart you need to do this,” remembers Mercer whose mother, Kathryn Jenkins, affectionately known as Kats, passed away in November of 2013. In late 2014, in his mother’s memory, Mercer created Karing, Agape and Transitional Services Inc., or KATs Inc. “We incorporated in August of 2014, tested deliveries in the fall and hit the ground running in January 2015,” remembers Mercer whose company now serves customers throughout the Birmingham metro area who call, email or text to request service.

Mercer says it is particularly rewarding to see how KATS allows others to serve. “I have had a group of ladies living out of town purchase delivery for six months for friend with cancer and Sunday school classes purchasing a few months of service for families in need. People want to do something that is tangible and can help.”

KATS is also giving Mercer the opportunity to serve the underserved. “In these 18 months, I realized that not everyone was like my mom and could afford the service. That really got me down.” Mercer began conversations with the local nonprofit Many Infinities (MI) that serves area families battling autoimmunity and autoimmune disease. Mercer worked with MI to apply for and receive a grant to participate in a nationwide pilot designed to improve access to groceries for homebound elderly and disabled persons participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  MI is one of five selected by the USDA to participate and this month KATS will begin shopping for and delivering free of charge SNAP approved items to the elderly and disabled throughout Jefferson and Shelby Counties.  MI and KATS hope to expand the service to surrounding counties in the coming months. “We found a gap in seniors and the disabled who need delivery and being able to afford delivery. This grant will help that void.” To learn more about this program visit or contact KATS at, 624-0777.

-Laurie Stroud

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Cookie Ministry: The Legend of Mark Norton

After retiring from a career in real estate, Birmingham’s Mark Norton enjoyed working a few hours each month for Bud’s Best cookies, sharing samples of “the little cookie with the big taste” with grocery store customers. When declining health led Norton to move into assisted living at Fair Haven Retirement Community, the owner of Bud’s Best, Bud Cason, decided Norton still needed his cookies. Boxes of cookies would routinely arrive for Norton and he would share his treasure with fellow residents. He soon became known as “the cookie man” and began hosting a monthly “cookie social” for his friends in assisted living and skilled care. His former boss, Bud Cason, and his son, Al Cason, made sure he had enough cookies to share each month, and despite major physical challenges including arthritis, the loss of a leg and loss of vision, Mark Norton continued to serve others with a smile and a cookie until his death at almost 94.
“He was like a flower in the concrete,” remembers son Tommy. “He hurt from head to toe but still was as sweet and positive as he could be. He was a man full of faith and he was not going to be unhappy.” When Norton died, his son Tommy and wife Dianne decided to continue his cookie tradition. “This is our ministry in memory and honor of my dad. I feel like every time we do this, he smiles, and these people are so sweet and so grateful.” Now in their eighth year of cookie service, the couple comes every first Tuesday of the month to Fair Haven with cookies donated by Bud’s Best to host two cookie socials, one in assisted living and one in skilled care. Tommy organizes the socials and oversees games for the residents while Dianne, who played the organ for Dawson Baptist for 43 years, plays the piano and leads the residents in singing. “Everyone loves Tommy and Dianne. They are a blessing and have done so many wonderful things for the residents throughout the years,” explains Fair Haven’s Lorrie Carruba. Bud’s Best’s Al Cason shares, “Mark Norton would be so proud to see his son continue this. Mr. Norton touched so many lives and continues through his son.

  • Laurie Stroud

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