Memories of my Mom

A bunch of flowers in a vase with a tag saying "Thanks Mom"

David WilhelmBooze & Bites, Recipes

Mother’s Day is one of -if not the- busiest days of the year for most restaurants, and as an owner of several, it’s almost sacrilegious of me to suggest something other than taking Mom out to Brunch.

A part of me wishes that more of us came up with some more meaningful ways to say to our Moms how much we love and appreciate all that they have done for us.

To this point, last year, Kingsford Charcoal put out a very clever commercial where a father is talking to his little boy as he helps him get dressed. The little boy asks “Why do I have to put on this sweater?” The father replies “Because we are going out to… Brunch!” The boy asks why, to which the father says “Because it’s Mother’s Day and sometimes you have to wear things you don’t like to wear… and we get to sit in traffic on our way to a fancy restaurant where we order over-priced entrees that are really small…things like quiche… which is egg pie.” The scene then changes showing Dad manning the backyard grill while Mom and son are relaxing nearby with the voice over “Make your Mother’s Day meal special by making it yourself.”

Kingsford TV Commercial, ‘Mother’s Day Brunch’

I really did laugh at the Dad’s eye rolling, smirking, and look of resignation as it was clear this was the last thing he wanted to do.

I’ve seen this same look in the eyes of many men in my restaurants over the years on Mother’s Day, and I get it. So, it started me thinking about what Moms really would like on their special day.


Cassie's Engagement Photo – 18 years old

Cassie’s Engagement Photo – 18 years old

My Mom Catherine, or ‘Cassie’ as she was known to everyone, passed away several years ago after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. To this day I still catch myself wanting to reach out to her when something cool happens in my day. This is because I’m the person I am today mostly because of my Mom. I think the majority of men would say that about their Dad but that wasn’t the case with me. My Dad was so busy trying to keep 6 kids fed and clothed that he had little time left to play with us, let alone mentor us.

The good news was that my Mom was always there for us… No matter what.

She was a full-time stay at home Mom, cook, shopper, dishwasher, counselor, gardener, care-giver and Queen Nurturer. No matter what ideas or activities we came up with as kids, she always supported and encouraged us. She would always say “Whatever you want to do you can make it happen if you just persevere.” That’s the one thing she instilled in me that has served me well throughout my life and career.

Of equal importance, she was responsible for unknowingly planting the seeds in me of a life in the food business, and the joy of cooking for others. It started with the fact that there were always wonderful smells coming from her kitchen. She loved to cook for us and whether it was coffeecake, yeasty breads, pot roast, tarts, pies or canning vegetables from her garden, the house was always filled with smells that made us kids feel that all was right in the world.

She also had a knack for coming up with some of the most creative leftovers imaginable. Whenever we had pot roast, there were rarely leftovers, but when there were, the next day she put the chilled meat through her hand crank meat grinder, mixed it with lots of mayonnaise, mustard and her homemade pickle relish she called ‘heavenly hash’. They made the most incredible tasting sandwiches you could imagine.

Never did I appreciate it so much as when I went to college. Coming home for Christmas or spring break to those wonderful smells drove me to start cooking with her so I would never be without some of my favorite dishes.

Mom's Recipe Book Signed Cover

Mom’s Recipe Book Signed Cover

She truly loved to cook for her family and knew how much we loved it in return. As each of us left to start lives of our own she gave us all a collection of her hand-written, self-titled recipes to share with our families, many of which had her personal handwritten notes and memories… Butter Tarts, Busy Day Potato Soup, Company Chicken and Mom’s Goulash…they’re all there.

Among the hundreds of cookbooks I own it’s my most treasured still today. Happy Mom’s Day…