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Traditions, Recipes and Food Memories Passed Down from Our Mothers



Food is at the heart of what we do at Great Performances. And for many people who work at Great Performances, food is an integral part of any family celebration or gathering.

Each holiday, we ask our team to share recipes and food memories, and this Mother’s Day is no different. In fact, it holds special poignancy because many of us cannot celebrate with our families.

So instead, we’ll cook the dishes they taught us, share our stories, and celebrate virtually until we can celebrate together in person.

Emily Bird – Pie Crust

I’ve never met a pie crust that’s better than my mother’s, which was her mother’s recipe, that has now been passed down to me. It’s a family recipe that makes me appreciate all of the “sweet” baking lessons I had with my grandma and mother in the kitchen!

My favorite filling is apple, but the crust works for everything from cherries to chocolate pudding.

Check out her recipe here.

Emily’s mom blows out a birthday candle on her birthday pie made with love.
Image credit: Emily Bird

Ali Rea Baum – Marcella Hazan’s Amatriciana

Cooking with my mother has always been one of my favorite things to do.  From when I was allowed to just stir to taking the lead, and creating the meals with her assisting me. One of the first recipes I remember falling in love with, and wanting to memorize, is Marcella Hazan’s Amatriciana from her cookbook “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”, which, coincidentally, was the first cookbook that my mother gave me. To this day, this recipe is still one of my favorites.

Make the dish with your mother!

Ali and her mom sharing a hug as they pose for the camera.
Image credit: Ali Rea Baum

Gary Bedigan – Every Meal is an Event

Like in song, my mother is “hostess with the mostest”. Growing up, every meal was an event!  We dressed for dinner and started with cocktails (or very watered down versions for the juniors) which were followed by course after course. Always a soup, then a salad, a pasta, then a main.  My sister and I learned recipes passed down from her mother, to her, and now to us. Each of us has our own take, but mom’s sauce is unbelievable. Some of our best memories (and our most vocal arguments) were always around the table. So people  say “never go to bed angry”, we  say “never leave the table upset.”

Gary and his mom sharing a dance at his parents’ 50th Anniversary celebration this spring.
Image credit: Gary Bedigan

Carina Hayek – Grandma’s Bread

So many of my memories of my mom and my grandmothers are tied up in food. Grandma’s bread, which my mom learned to make from her mother in law, made its daily appearance in our school lunches. My mom would faithfully make the bread biweekly so we wouldn’t be subjected to store bought bread which, in the 80s, was only suitable as ammunition for straw shooters.

An integral component of Grandma’s bread, which of course doesn’t have a recipe, is a boiled potato and the potato water. Whenever we had boiled potatoes with dinner, my mother would invariably make extra for bread. But we needed bread more often than we ate boiled potatoes, and to this day, the smell of boiled potatoes triggers warm memories of childhood.

Sometimes, my mother would time the baking of the bread just right and we’d come home from school to find a freshly baked loaf of bread on the kitchen counter, a golden, crusty beauty that she’d brushed with butter and left to cool before she could slice and freeze it. Of course we’d clamor for a still-warm slice and my mom would indulge us. I say “we” because although it was usually just me and my brother, occasionally a friend would have come home with us and between the three of us, we’d demolish at least half a loaf.

As a special treat, sometimes my mom, like my Grandma, would prepare extra dough that she’d turn into cinnamon rolls. I’m having a cinnamon roll now. At 74, my mom continues her ritual of boiling potatoes to bake us our daily bread.

Carina’s Grandma’s bread made by mom.
Image credit: Carina Hayek