So many Pie’ssibilities
By Tori Couch
Photos courtesy of Trisha Mitchell
Trisha Mitchell loves converting sweet potato pie skeptics into believers. Just thinking about customer reactions at events like Southlake’s Oktoberfest puts a smile on her face.
“They’ll buy a pie, and they walk away just in case they don’t like it. It’s hilarious,” the owner of Sweet Pie’ssibilities said, laughing. “They’ll walk down, away from the booth, take a bite, do the turn back and be like ‘Oh, my gosh.’”
Sweet potato fans — and potential new converts — can find Mitchell at Southlake’s 2023 Oktoberfest, Oct. 13-15 at the Southlake Town Square. Mitchell, who moved to Southlake in 2007, has been an Oktoberfest staple since 2019. This year, she will have a few new menu items and will work out of a bright yellow food truck instead of a tent.
She has been making sweet potato pies since 1991. What started as a Thanksgiving meal necessity has evolved into a small business. Mitchell started getting pie orders for corporate events in 2014. That same year, she became a grandmother and stepped away from the medical field after working as a nurse since 1990.
Being a wife, mother, grandmother and baker keeps Mitchell busy. She also volunteers at the Southlake Senior Activity Center and writes the Faithfull column for the Keller-based Society Life Magazine.
Mitchell recently sat down with 76092 to talk about Sweet Pie’ssibilities and the upcoming Oktoberfest. Our conversation is edited for brevity.
76092: Who or what inspired you to start making sweet potato pies?
Mitchell: My husband likes sweet potato pies. We had just moved to Iowa in July (1991), so here it is Thanksgiving, November, and we couldn’t get back home to spend time with family. I said, ‘Let me try to make a pie.’ I called my mom and asked her what my grandmother put in her pies. My mom didn’t know the recipe, but she knew some of the ingredients. I just started playing with it. Whenever we had an event at church, I would bake the pie. People would say how good it was. Just the fact that people love them, that was my inspiration. I can bless people. I see it as a gift.
76092: Is Sweet Pie’ssibilities a full-time venture? How has it evolved?
Mitchell: I don’t do Sweet Pie’ssibilities full time. I’d like to one day. When I first started making them, I didn’t see that as a way to make money. People kept saying you need to sell them. I decided to do a test market in 2000. I was in southeast Texas at that time. I would go around to different little businesses and see if they wanted a pie. I would make them once a month. Then that Thanksgiving, I had 250 pies to make. I was overwhelmed. After Thanksgiving, I stopped answering my phone. I couldn’t do it; it was too much, because my thing is I don’t do day-old pies. I bake the pie, you get the pie that day.
76092: What makes your pies unique?
Mitchell: I don’t put milk or cream or condensed milk in it. That keeps it from spoiling. No preservatives. It’s just fresh-baked pie. When a customer orders a pie, they get it the day that they need it. I’ve shipped to California and New York and all that. I bake the pie, freeze it and ship it on ice. The good thing about the pies is even when you freeze them, you can leave them in the freezer for six months, nine months. Once you take it out and put it in the oven, the crust is still flaky. I do everything by scratch. I make my own pie crust. I handpick every sweet potato, because there are certain ones I like. I love it. People love it. I’ve given away more pies than I’ve sold.
76092: How did you come up with your current recipe?
Mitchell: Once I decided I was going to sell it, I had to make sure it’s consistently good. When I first started making it, I had the ingredients but I didn’t know how much of each. I would throw a little of this ingredient in, have my husband taste it. What do you think? ‘Oh, it needs more cinnamon.’ But when I decided to sell it, it had to be consistently good all the time. I worked on it and worked on it.
76092: What do you like about Southlake’s Oktoberfest? What brings you back each year?
Mitchell: The fact that the people love the pies. Even the people that are like ‘I don’t know,’ I’ll just give them a pie. You don’t have to buy it — taste it. Then, they’ll come back and buy a dozen. I like it because it’s an opportunity for my family to get together. My daughters come from Houston to help me. I bought a food trailer for Mother’s Day. I’m really excited about that. I’m going to start adding more things to the menu and doing more events. I have a couple lined up for Southlake. I’m going to be doing a Fourth of July event next year. It’s not about making money, because I don’t make a lot of money. Just the passion behind it, that I have a gift I can share with the world.
76092: Sweet potato pies are your specialty. What else are you adding to the menu for events?
Mitchell: I only sell sweet potato pies and peach cobbler, but I’ve been working on different menus. When I do the event for Fourth of July, I’m gonna do sausage on a stick or something like that. This year, I’m going to do a pizza pie. I was selling sweet tea, too. I’m going to make green tea. It’s really good; it tastes just like sweet tea. You can’t tell the difference. I’m also doing limeade, because everybody does lemonade. I’m going to do limeade and I’m putting a twist on it. Been working on all kinds of stuff.