BY RAMON PRESSON
In my universe the only thing that can top a great peach cobbler is a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and maybe a great story about the cobbler. That’s where Benny Marshall of Cobbler Creations comes in. www.facebook.com/cobblercreationstn
I met Benny a few years ago on a Saturday morning at the Franklin Farmer’s Market where he had me at the words “free sample.” After one taste I went for my wallet like an anxious gunslinger goes for his holstered pistol. My life forever changed later that night when the oven timer went off.
Before that moment I was living in a tent at REI, and working various odd jobs — NASCAR driver, criminal court judge, third shift plastic surgeon. My wife had left me, my children cut off my allowance, and my dog wouldn’t talk to me. I was in a downward spiral that was about to land me in jail or in the state legislature. My life was transformed instantly. Cobbler can do that.
I wanted you to hear the backstory.
Benny, how did Cobbler Creations get started?
It all began in 2014. I was flipping through the channels and came across Dirty Jobs. Folks were picking blueberries, and I’m thinking, “What’s so dirty about that?” They then went over to a kitchen where two little old ladies were arguing over who made the best cobbler. I thought to myself, “My mom makes the best cobbler!”
I cut off the TV and went upstairs to tell my wife, Michelle, about my new idea and a question: What if my Mom’s cobbler was still good after being frozen?
We made up a few cobblers and put them in the freezer. The next day we baked them and we couldn’t tell a difference. So, then the idea was to try selling a few at a local farmers market in Bellevue. We made up 20 and sold 17. The next week we made 30 and sold 28, and the next week we made 40 and sold 37. Many people were coming back and buying two and three at a time.
I looked at Michelle and said,” Wow, this is crazy. We really have something here.”
She quickly replied, “Not We. This is your baby. I’ve still got seven kids at home.”
I baked and sold cobblers for the rest of the summer and it was a huge success. We were invited to several fall festivals which led to being asked if we would put the cobblers in stores.
I understand the cobbler recipe is a closely guarded secret.
The recipe comes from my great grandmother in the late 1800s. Passed from her to my grandmother to my mother and then to me. Our process utilizes an old-world technique no longer commonly taught. Before we started selling the cobblers people would always ask us for the recipe. Three of the children we have now were actually trades for the recipe. I’m just kidding; don’t print that.
I won’t, don’t worry. Hey, how many cobblers are you baking each week?
Me and two ladies, Alice and Donna, make about 200 cobblers a week. We make three flavors (peach, blackberry and blueberry) in five different sizes. We also make gluten-free cobblers which has been a popular option. We bake year-round.
Wait, you bake 200 hundred cobblers year-round in your home kitchen? And your wife hasn’t left you?
I get to use a commercial kitchen at a local VFW. This was a real God-send. I was looking for another kitchen and everywhere I looked the kitchen rental was ridiculously high. I spotted the VFW on the way home and decided to stop and inquire. I asked Sam, the manager, if I could rent space and he said: “No.” As I was walking out, I asked if my being a veteran would make a difference. He paused, and then said, “Make me [an] offer.” I’ve been there for three years now.
Where can be Cobbler Creations be found?
I’m at the Franklin Farmer’s Market year-round. Also at Red Dog Wine & Spirits in Franklin, Sperry’s Mercantile in Belle Meade, Produce Place in Nashville, Lawrence Foods in Kingston Springs, Houston’s Meat and Produce, and Hendersonville Produce.
Restaurants include Bar B Cutie in Franklin, PDK in Bellevue and Mt. Juliet, and Peg Leg Porker in the Gulch. We are currently working to get into local Whole Foods and Krogers by year’s end.
And this is not your only job, is it?
With a large family, baking cobblers alone doesn’t put kids through college so I am also a chauffeur. Life is very busy for us, but the Lord has given us strength and opened many doors and hopefully we will be at the next level soon.
When do you sleep?
Can I take just a quick peak at the recipe while you take a nap in the chair?
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read Presson’s previous columns go to www.franklinhomepage.com/?s=ramon+presson
A good peach cobbler can make your day. A great peach cobbler can change your life.
— Ramon L. Presson, famous culinary philosopher