photograph by Tim Robison

NC Pie Series: What comes at the end is always remembered: the goodnight kiss, the famous last words, the three-point shot at the buzzer, the homemade pie following a fine meal. What’s a plate of flounder in Calabash or oysters on the Outer Banks without a slice of lemon meringue, served on a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork? Can you imagine a rib eye at the Angus Barn in Raleigh without the grand finale — that famous chocolate chess, drizzled with syrup, dolloped with whipped cream? What of the perfectly fried chicken at Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, culminating with a slice of sweet potato or pecan? Sure, we love our cakes, cobblers, and banana puddings, but pie provides the sweetest memories. 

In 1956, when she was a teenager, Ginger Shinn and her family stayed a spell at the Smokey Shadows Lodge in Maggie Valley. They were on vacation from their home in Miami, and something about that week — that long, stretching porch, that view of the mountains, 3,600 feet up in the world — stuck with Ginger. Almost 30 years later, she and her husband decided to purchase a property in North Carolina. Ginger checked the newspaper every Sunday until, one week, she recognized a listing: “This has to be Smokey Shadows!” she remembers saying. “It was like a dream.”

Today, she runs the lodge with her family, including her daughter Tracy, who cooks their “country gourmet” fare — including a locally famous cheesy tomato pie. A family friend shared the recipe, which Tracy tweaked and tailored until she got it just right. These days, she doesn’t even need the recipe. “I don’t measure,” she says. “Just do it all by sight.” She starts with a pastry crust, which she fills to the brim with layers of sliced tomatoes — “They need to be firm!” — and a mixture of mayonnaise, mozzarella and other cheeses, basil, garlic, and lemon pepper. At the Lodge, Tracy bakes at least one for every table at each meal. “There were a couple times we didn’t make it,” Ginger says. “And oh, we heard about it.”

Smokey Shadows Lodge 
323 Smokey Shadows Lane
Maggie Valley, NC 28751
(866) 926-0001

Smokey Shadows Lodge Tomato Pie

Yield: 6 servings.

2 large tomatoes, firm but ripe
1 pie crust
½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
½ cup colby cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
Garlic powder to taste
Dried basil to taste
Chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Bake pie crust lightly. Slice tomatoes. In a medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, cheese, and seasoning. Layer tomatoes in baked pie shell.

Top with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted and golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Let sit for five minutes and top with fresh basil.

Order a copy
To purchase A Taste of Smokey Shadows Lodge cookbook, contact Ginger Shinn.
323 Smokey Shadows Lane
Maggie Valley, NC 28751
(866) 926-0001

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Emma Laperruque works as a food writer and recipe developer at Food 52 in New York City.