What started as a challenge between two colleagues has become a locally and nationally recognized pie business—with even the likes of chef Gordon Ramsay left licking his plate clean.

"I was having lunch with my supervisor, and she made the comment that she makes the best buttermilk pie around," said Mary Jayne Buckingham, owner of The Cutie Pie Wagon. "I looked at her and said, 'No, you don't, my momma does.'"

Buckingham said her supervisor told her to put her money where her pie hole was, so to speak.

She challenged Buckingham to enter an upcoming pie contest at The Driskill Hotel in Austin.

"So I broke out my mom's buttermilk pie recipe, entered the contest and won," Buckingham said. "Betty Lou's buttermilk pie has been appearing on the 1886 Cafe and Bakery's menu for a number of years now."

Soon after the pie contest, Buckingham decided to open her own bakery—and The Cutie Pie Wagon was born in 2009.

In the 14 years since starting her businesses, the 63-year-old, referred to as The Pie Queen, has received countless accolades for her pies, which she sells in 4.5-inch pie tins at The Cutie Pie Wagon parked at Chestnut Grove Food Truck Court in Bastrop.

Some of her awards include winning the National Pie Championship more than once, being featured in Martha Stewart Magazine and Southern Living Magazine, and winning a white apron on MasterChef in 2020—making her one of the top 15 home chefs in America.

What makes it special

Buckingham is not only the owner; she does everything for The Cutie Pie Wagon—from shopping to creating, baking and selling.

Her recipes are all inspired by her family, including her late mother, Betty Lou, along with her grandmother and great-grandmother, aunts and more.

"I honestly feel like that's why the pies are so good and people really like them," Buckingham said. "I take the time to do it the way that people in my family have done it for generations, and honestly I think that comes across in the pies. I think it makes a difference when you take your time, and you put love and effort and family traditions in what you make."

What's on the menu

Buckingham said some of her bestselling treats include her buttermilk pie, which was named fourth-best pie in the Southern United States by Southern Living Magazine; her Heath toffee pecan pie, which won the National Pie Championship in 2013; and the peachy Key lime habanero pie, which not only won the National Championship in 2015, but also won Buckingham a white apron on "MasterChef" season 11.

"It's a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy, and checks all the boxes," Buckingham said.

For those who prefer chocolate, Buckingham recommends her Hershey icebox pie.

Other items on the menu include quiches; Southern Strawberry Banana Puddin' with vanilla wafers; and chicken pot pie in a creamy bechamel sauce wrapped in a garlic butter crust.

What else?

Buckingham said she has overcome many hurdles, but with the slogan "Stuff Your Pie Hole," her moxie shines through, and she comes out on top each time.

Learning from her trials, Buckingham believes the future of The Cutie Pie Wagon is bright, and she hopes one day to pass it along to her grandchildren and keep the tradition alive.