At her bakery in Chicago, Maya-Camille Broussard is serving up food justice with every pie.
Broussard, an art teacher and gallerist-turned-baker from Chicago, was born to bake — and help others. Her father, Stephen J. Broussard, a criminal defense attorney and self-proclaimed "Pie Master," was as passionate about baking and eating pie as he was about community.
"My dad would say, 'Everyone deserves representation. Everyone deserves a second chance,'" Broussard told Al Roker on the 3rd Hour of TODAY.
In 2009, just days before Broussard opened her own art gallery in the South Side of Chicago, her father suddenly died from brain tumor complications. Five years later, however, she found a way to honor his affection for anything with a crust and his commitment to helping others.
"I was visiting some of my cousins in San Francisco. And there was this pie shop. And my cousin said to me, as we walked into the shop, you know, 'They hire a lot of teens who are suffering from homelessness,' and then something just clicked, you know, within me, like, I'm supposed to be doing something like this," Broussard explained.
In 2014, Justice of the Pies was born.
The bakery, which specializes in sweet and savory pies, quiches and tarts, makes money by catering events and going to fairs, farmers markets and festivals. But its main focus — the filling to its crust — is working in social justice through the culinary arts.
"We always say that the service that we give is secondary to the pie that we serve," Broussard said. "So our goal is to lend a hand and to take up a cause where we see fit."
One cause Broussard committed to is reducing food insecurity, particularly among children and teens. She launched the I Knead Love workshop, where she teaches elementary school students from lower-income communities about nutrition, buying food, cooking and baking.
"We’ll go to a grocery store, and I'll give each kid a $50 gift card to kind of teach them the life skill of budgeting and shopping for a recipe," Broussard told TODAY. "I am encouraging kids to exercise their creativity in the kitchen."
Unfortunately, since the pandemic, with so many catering events and markets closed, her main source of income has taken a major hit — and so has her workshop. Broussard shared she is hearing impaired, so lip-reading has become impossible with everyone wearing masks.
Still, she's not letting these challenges deter her from baking up more batches of altruism. Throughout the last few months, Justice of the Pies has baked and delivered more than 3,000 meals to healthcare workers on the front lines — a continued effort that would surely make Broussard's father proud.
"My dad used to smile with his whole face. You know, and I just imagine that he's smiling with his whole entire face," she said.