To 15-year old Bryce Palmyra, growing up in Avery County with a big southern family has been a fantastic experience full of support, encouragement and delicious food — something that everyone in the south knows and loves.
That is what inspired him to pursue the writing and publishing of his very own southern-style cookbook, Things to Bring My Family When I Die.
The cookbook approaches the topic of “funeral food” in a comedic and light-hearted manner, providing families with an impressive collection of Palmyra’s recipes to use for any occasion, funerals or otherwise.
“They’re all really easy recipes,” Palmyra said. “They’re quick and easy, even a 4 year old could do it. I wanted to make it simple and to include things that everyone would already have in their pantries.”
Palmyra, who has been cooking since he was 5, said that he wanted to create this cookbook to discuss the southern tradition that is bereavement food.
Going through a mourning period for a loved one can be tough and trying on a family. Receiving support, love and help in the form of food from friends and neighbors is important. It may even be vital for them and the healing process.
“If someone passes away, it’s what the family needs,” he said. “It’s so traditional and nobody talks about it, but it’s so necessary.”
However, southern funeral food isn’t the only thing Palmyra loves about the beautiful south with which all of us are so familiar.
“I love southern hospitality. Everyone knows everyone, and we’re like one big happy family,” he said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I love that. It’s so true.”
Palmyra, who is known in his tight-knit community as the best teen chef in town, has lived in Avery County all of his life. He thoroughly enjoys and admires the loving and supportive atmosphere offered by both his town and his family members, who live within a five mile range of one another and are around for every holiday and special occasion.
“We know each other really well. We are all here for each other and we have each other’s backs,” Palmyra stated. “Everyone cooks, and it’s such a big family. We always like to take on challenging recipes to see if we can pull them together.”
It’s no surprise that Palmyra, who has grown up in a large food-oriented family and has been in the kitchen for ten years, has developed an enormous passion for cooking and plans to pursue a career that involves baking, his specialty, and writing, his other passion.
“I want to be a pastry chef. I want to do something with cooking and writing,” he said. “Those are my two strongest subjects.”
Throughout his life, both at school and at home, Palmyra said he has focused mainly on arts and writing. This is due to the fact that he considers himself to be “liberal arts minded” and that’s what he plans to continue to explore and cultivate.
Publishing a cookbook at 15 is an impressive and substantial first step toward continuing a career of writing and cooking. Palmyra hopes to write more cookbooks in the future. He enjoys the idea of having all of his recipes easily accessible in one place.
“I had all of these recipes, and I thought about a book with everything in one place,” he said. “All in one place was my biggest inspiration.”
Palmyra compiled his collection of recipes into one book, and he worked on it diligently for two years before it was finally published by L’Edge Press in Boone with recipes and true family stories that everyone can enjoy.
“My publisher was amazing,” Palmyra stated. “He was so helpful, and I’m so thankful for him and all he did for me.”
Being published at the ripe age of 15 makes Palmyra feel incredible, he said, especially considering this is the first major writing project he has ever taken on.
“I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help and support. I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me pull it together,” Palmyra said. “I’m so thankful.”
If you’re interested in buying Things to Bring My Family When I Die, it is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and a portion of all proceeds will go to Hope Makes a Difference, a charity focused on improving lives.