It's early morning at Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina. Sunlight creeps through skylights to illuminate battered wood floors and mingle with smoke from a wood fire burning down to coals for two adjacent barbecue pits. I'm not here for barbecue; I'm here for banana pudding pie, a Buxton specialty that pastry chef Ashley Capps has agreed to make for me. This is no small favor; the pie is a complex, multilayered beast. “You know the term easy as pie? It's so false. It's just easy to eat,” she says with a laugh.
As a child, Capps was fond of her mother's meringue-topped banana pudding. Transforming the childhood dessert into a pie fit for a restaurant was “a combination of technique and nostalgia,” a blending of her “inner child and Southern roots.”