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Pies for the troops from Asheville restaurant

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1/27/2012 - Pies for the troops from Asheville restaurant
by Jon Ostendorff - Asheville Citizen Times

Executive Chef Brian Sonaskus holds a tray of brown butter pecan pies at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville. The restaurant is sending pies to troops in Afghanistan. Executive Chef Brian Sonaskus holds a tray of brown butter pecan pies at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville. The restaurant is sending pies to troops in Afghanistan. / John Fletcher/jfletcher@citizen-times.com
 ASHEVILLE -- Self-proclaimed "Jersey Boy" chef Brian Sonoskus grew up in a big family with a big kitchen.

 Meals were a time to get together and enjoy each others' company. 

So when a local couple bought a pie from his Tupelo Honey restaurant and had it shipped to a soldier stationed overseas during the holidays, he thought about what food has meant in his life and got an idea.

"It has caused quite a stir," he said while pouring the filling into a brown butter pecan pie Thursday morning at his downtown restaurant.

The restaurant is donating 30 pies to soldiers overseas for Valentine's Day in an effort dubbed "Operation Tupelo Pies."

They'll be packed in ice and sent out fresh, the executive chef said.

Tupelo Honey is taking nominations for soldiers, which can be made on its website.

After the first 30 are out the door, Asheville-area residents can buy more for the troops.

People are encouraged to sign a virtual card for the troops at operationtupelopies.com

Sonoskus hopes the pies will give soldiers a taste of home and let them gather around a table somewhere much as he did growing up.

The pies will go to soldiers stationed overseas, including in Afghanistan, where the N.C. National Guard has about 200 troops.

Getting packages from home is a highlight of any deployment, N.C. National Guard Capt. Rick Scoggins said.

"As a guy who has been deployed twice, it was always nice to get something from home and especially something as nice as a pecan pie," he said. "Nothing says home like a pecan pie."

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