Sweet Charity

Food Community Rallies Behind Fire-Ravaged Pie Shop

Fundraiser this Saturday to benefit My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe, destroyed by fire earlier this week.

By Katharine Shilcutt December 4, 2013

A 2009 photo of Bella-Katherine Curtis and her mother, Dee Dee, who passed away in 2011.

Bella-Katherine Curtis has run the popular My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe on Gulf Bank, just around the corner from the sprawling Sunny Flea Market, for over 20 years. Many of those years have been marked by tragedy: in 2010, her son was killed in a still-unsolved hit-and-run accident just down the street from the bakery. In 2011, Curtis's mother—the eponymous Dee Dee—passed away. Last month, Curtis's father passed away too. Tragedy struck once again this past week when Curtis's entire business burned to the ground.

My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe, housed in a beautiful two-story Victorian home on a quiet acreage of tree-lined land, caught fire early Friday morning. Firefighters arrived at 7 a.m., but it was too late to save the bakery, which had been burning for hours unnoticed. The Pie Shoppe was a total loss.

But in her 20 years running My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe, Curtis made plenty of friends, too. Local chefs like Randy Evans—now chef/owner at Haven, and formerly of Brennan's—had preached the gospel of Dee Dee's pies for years. My first visit to My Dee Dee's was on one of the inaugural Houston Culinary Tours in the fall of 2009, where Curtis and her mother served fat slices of homemade pies and cakes.

In addition to retail sales, My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe supplied cakes and pies to many Houston-area restaurants.

The stop at My Dee Dee's that day was Evans pick for the Culinary Tour, and I still distinctly remember how tickled Curtis was to host everyone at her bakery. I also remember my favorite slice of pie that day—her signature Celestial Pie made with cream cheese, blueberries and bananas—and how surprised I was to find out that Curtis sold her pies in the glass Pyrex dishes she baked them in (which you could return for a discount on your next pie). You don't get much more homemade than that.

This weekend, Evans and other friends of My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe are hosting a fundraiser at Haven to help Curtis raise funds to reopen and rebuild her bakery. Though My Dee Dee's had just finished a record run—baking over 2,000 pies for Thanksgiving in only two days—the bakery was uninsured.

Pastry chef Rebecca Masson, who's currently busy trying to open her own bakery, got together with Evans and chef Kevin Naderi of Roost (and former sous chef at Haven) when she heard the news of the My Dee Dee's fire, determined to pull together support for a fellow baker who's fallen on bad times. Between the three of them, they've assembled a dream team of chefs, bakers, brewers, and musicians who are all donating to this Saturday's fundraiser.

From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Haven will be hosting a charity lunch and auction with barbecue from Ronnie Killen of Killen's BBQ in Pearland—the same barbecue people line up for every weekend morning starting around 9 a.m. Admission is $50, and includes additional food from Haven, beer from Saint Arnold, and live entertainment. Pastry chefs Samantha Mendoza of Triniti and Plinio Sandalio—the pastry wunderkind formerly of Textile, who now works and lives in Austin—will be offering treats at a bake sale, while an auction will include items from chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, chef Johnny Wesley of Mr. Peeples, and more. The $50 admission price and the proceeds from the bake sale will go straight to My Dee Dee's, although no admission is required to purchase items from the bake sale.

But the charity doesn't end this Saturday. Scott Tycer, owner of Kraftsmen Baking, has offered to let Curtis use his massive commercial kitchen space for a month while she gets back on her feet. And in addition to the funds raised this weekend, an account has been set up at Wells Fargo in My Dee Dee's Pie Shoppe's name for anyone else who wishes to help out.


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