Tag Archives: bakery life

Shashy’s Bakery, Montgomery, AL

Fruit pies, cinnamon rolls, cheese biscuits and even Fried Green Tomatoes Eggs Benedict please bakery fans in Alabama’s capital city.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

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A retro-cool sign marks the spot

People line up at the showcases, waiting to point out which sweets they want boxed to go. They fill a couple of dozen tables steadily from breakfast time through lunch. They sometimes spot owner Jimmy Shashy darting around in back, keeping the baked goods coming at Shashy’s Bakery & Fine Foods.

A few know Jimmy pretty well from his 21 years at the same venerable location in the Mulberry Business District of Montgomery, Alabama. Many others are most likely unaware of just how diversified a character he really is.

Jimmy Shashy comes from a family of medical professionals, a clan of doctors and surgeons based in Montgomery and Birmingham, so he can talk medicine with ease. He studied English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, so he can get the grammar right (when he wants to) in his Alabama country-boy accent.

Jimmy Shashy with a cream pie

He also holds a degree in wildlife science from Auburn University, knowledge he puts to use managing deer and turkey populations on about 1,200 rural acres his father maintains in part for hunting in nearby Lowndes County. Jimmy is a devoted vegetable farmer too, tending produce that as often as not end up on plates at his popular bakery and café.

Shashy's Cream Cheese Melt-aways

Shashy’s Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Despite such renaissance-man leanings, Jimmy is first and foremost a baker. “When I didn’t show an interest in following most of my family into the medical field,” the Montgomery native says, “my mother suggested I go up to Birmingham and learn about baking from my cousin, Van Scott, who later bought Savage’s Bakery in Homewood and still runs it to this day.” (Click here for a separate Bakery Boy Blog post about Savage’s). “We both worked at Waite’s, a bakery that’s long gone now. I spent a few year waiting tables, cooking, and baking. Then I moved back home to run a Montgomery bakery that’s also gone, and in 1990 I opened Shashy’s Bakery & Fine Foods.”  

Pie ladies (from left) Lacy, Bro, and Brandi with Cherry, Chocolate Cream, and Pecan Pies

Baked goods run a wide gamut at Shashy’s. Beautiful, rich pies fill a large section of the showcases, including cherry, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut cream, key lime and other selections ($10.95 to $18.95 whole, $3.95 by the slice). Layer cakes stacked three or four layers high—usually by Jimmy himself, since that’s one of his specialties—include red velvet, carrot, lemon-orange, chocolate (starting at $24.99) and a terrific strawberry cake made with locally grown berries ($32.99).

Shashy's Thumbprint Cookies

Shashy's Cinnamon Raisin Buns

There are also frosting-topped thumbprint cookies on pecan shortbread (70¢), oatmeal-raisin cookies (75¢), cinnamon raisin buns (95¢), cream cheese and cherry Danish ($1.75), petit fours ($1.25), mini bonbons comprised of little chocolate cakes covered with butter cream and chocolate icing ($1.75), and a variety of thick brownies. Breads range from rectangular white, whole wheat, and rye loaves ($3.95) sliced for sandwich-making, to Parker House rolls ($6 a dozen), to awesome cheese biscuits (65¢ for a mini, $1.40 for one the size of a hamburger bun) that are earning Shashy’s a wider circle of fans.

Shashy's Fried Green Tomatoes Eggs Benedict

The “fine foods” part of the name Shashy’s Bakery & Fine Foods packs quite a few surprises. None is more interesting and tasty than the locally famous Fried Green Tomatoes Eggs Benedict ($9.95) served on Saturdays. It involves slices of green tomato dipped in a tempura batter and fried, topped with sliced bacon, poached eggs, and a very lemony hollandaise sauce, and served with orange slices and a toasted English muffin. I recently paired this phenomenon with a buttery bowl of grits on the side and an endless cup of coffee for the best brunch I’ve eaten in years. Intriguing variations worth considering: Corned Beef Hash Benedict and Filet of Beef Tenderloin Benedict.

Shashy's Cream Cheese and Cherry Danish

The café serves omelets, pancakes, French toast, and home-fried potatoes for breakfast, then deli-meat sandwiches, shrimp po’ boys, turkey club croissants, burgers, catfish, grilled Reuben sandwiches, curried chicken salad and more for lunch.

Lebanese dishes such as hummus tahini, baked kibbeh, and rolled grape leaves pop up frequently (the family name Shashy comes from his grandparents, natives of neighboring Syria). On Thursdays he makes chicken shacree, a combination of yogurt, onions, mint and braised garbanzo beans that goes well with his taboulleh and hummus.

Shashy's pie case

“I also make Louisiana Cajun-style gumbo, etouffee, and barbecued shrimp, Lowcountry Charleston sauté, and other dishes just because that’s what I like to eat,” Jimmy says.

He’s obsessed with freshness. “I go three times a week to the local farmers market, the Montgomery Curb Market, to pick up silver corn, onions, cantaloupe and blueberries in summer, or collards, turnip greens and rutabaga in winter—whatever looks good at the time—and work it into the menu.”

That devotion to freshness led Jimmy into vegetable farming as a sideline. “I work here at the bakery all morning, leave at about 3 in the afternoon, go down to the farm and put in another 4 or 5 hours tending my vegetables,” he says. “I’m growing the squash, okra, eggplant and a lot of the other produce we serve in the café.”

The one aspect of his story that seems most out of place is the wildlife science part, which he explains it in midlife crisis terms. “There I was, turning 40 and I’d already been in the food business for half my life,” he says. “Early on I’d thought about a career in wildlife biology or something like that, and I knew I wouldn’t be content until I got the degree I’d always wanted. So I kept running the bakery as always and took courses at Auburn whenever I could squeeze them in until I finally got it. I don’t suppose I’ll ever use that degree for anything other that managing my family’s land, but I get a great sense of satisfaction out of just having followed through.”


Shashy’s Bakery & Fine Foods

1700 Mulberry Street

Montgomery, AL 36106


no website, but click here for  Shashy’s Facebook Page


For more about visiting Montgomery: visitingmontgomery.com

For more about visiting Alabama: www.alabama.travel

Why My Father the Baker Never Paid for a Haircut

This is no because-he-was-bald joke. The man knew how to swing a deal. It took a Dumpster-diving bum to solve the mystery for me.

by Bakery Boy

My well-coiffed dad

Next door to my family’s original bakery in Charleston, West Virginia, was a small barbershop run by a good-natured man called Doc Baker. Despite the name, he was neither a doctor nor a baker, just an old-fashioned no-frills hair cutter. As a small child I often tagged along to play in the rarely used second barber chair while my father got his hair cut, like clockwork, every other week.

Doc Baker, the Barber

Other than the requisite buzz cut of his Army days during WWII, my dad kept a thick, handsome wave of dark hair (later a brilliant shade of shiny gray) until he died at age 79. Every time he got up from that chair, he’d glance in the mirror and tell the barber, “Pretty good job, Doc. If you ever get it right, I’ll pay you.” They’d both chuckle and we’d walk out.

I always wondered why no money changed hands. It took a homeless man (less-charitably called bums or winos back then) to clear up the matter for me.

From about the age of 10, one of my tasks as a Bakery Boy was to drag flour sacks, emptied of flour and filled with trash and with damaged or stale baked goods, out to the back alley and pitch them into a big Dumpster. I’d been doing this for years without incident, until one day I heard muffled complaints coming from inside the big bin.

“Hey, watch out,” yelled a scraggly man who poked up from the hinged top door, his long hair a tangled greasy mess and his hands filthy claws.

“What are you doing in there?” I asked naively.

“Looking for lunch, of course,” he answered. “It’s Monday!”

“What’s Monday got to do with it?” I said, confused.

“No hair on the cakes and donuts, on account of the barbershop is closed on Sunday,” he growled, jerking a thumb toward the Doc’s back door.

“Huh?” I said, but he disappeared from sight and continued his rummaging.

Later that day, as I disposed of one last flour sack full of trash, old Doc the barber meandered out carrying a single paper grocery bag, tossed it up and over, and clapped his hands to brush off stray strands of hair.

“What gives?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s a deal I’ve had with your dad and his dad before him for many years,” Doc explained. “I don’t have but maybe a small bag of hair to get rid of every day, so instead of paying for garbage service I just piggyback on your trash bin and give your father free haircuts in exchange. Works out well for both of us.”

So that was it. They bartered haircuts for trash disposal. Worked out well for everyone but the hungry homeless people, I guess. Except on Mondays, when enterprising Dumpster-divers feasted on a sweet and hair-free buffet.

Baking Beatles

All you “knead” is love.

story & photo by Bakery Boy

It fascinates me how bakery stories can rise out of nowhere at unexpected moments. I was driving to visit a bakeshop for this blog the other day and heard something on Sirius-XM Radio that suddenly put The Beatles into a bakery perspective.

Two Beatles were, like me, bakers. And no, I didn't actually heat the oven for this shot! Photo by Bakery Boy.

Deejay Dusty Street, who broadcasts her Classic Vinyl show daily from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, was introducing a John Lennon song from his last album, recorded shortly before he was murdered in 1980. She mentioned how he spent the last few years of his life cocooning with wife Yoko and baby Sean in a New York City apartment where, as a homespun hobby, he baked bread.

Okay, cool, so a Beatle was a baker. Makes a bakery-born Bakery Boy like me proud to be in such company.

Then I remembered how original Beatles drummer Pete Best, who was replaced by Ringo Starr, left what must have seemed at the time like an iffy future in pop music to take steadier work in, sure enough, a bakery. This was right before the group hit it big in 1962. Some call Pete the unluckiest man in the history of Rock & Roll because of that move, though decades later he formed the Pete Best Band and got back into performing.

So it turns out these two baking stories—one about an original band mate, the other about the first band mate to die—form bookends to the Beatles story.

I began thinking about (and humming) Beatles song lyrics that mention baked goods. Surely there are more. Let me know if you come up with any others.

  • Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: “Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain, where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies”
  • Honey Pie: “Honey Pie you are making me crazy”
  • Savoy Truffle: “Cool cherry cream, nice apple tart / I feel your taste all the time we’re apart / Coconut fudge really blows down those blues / But you’ll have to have them all pulled out / After the Savoy truffle”
  • Penny Lane: “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes / Full of fish and finger pies in summer”

I’m not sure what the “finger pies” referred to here are exactly, and I don’t think truffles, Savoy or otherwise, count as baked goods. But the sweet sentiment is clear. Have you thought of any tasty Beatles baked-goods lyrics to add? If so, click the comment button below and let me know!