WHEELING – Issak Nizami was never a fan of pumpkin pie when he was young. For him, the problem was the pumpkin – or rather, the type of pumpkin.
He thinks it was the canned pumpkin that put him off. But when he was 10, he had an idea.
âI really didn’t like other people’s pumpkin pies. So I thought why not make them from real pumpkins? ” he said.
He wondered if the secret to making the best pumpkin pie was using the flesh of fresh pumpkins. Since then, he has adjusted his recipe, baking pumpkin flesh with spices and baking it in a graham cracker crust.
Now 14, Nizami is a specialty student at Wheeling Park High School, an excellent cross country runner and a young entrepreneur, selling his pumpkin pies. He started bringing his pies to family and friends parties last year.
Word that it was an exceptional dessert came out of the box and people started asking him to put his pies up for sale.
Nizami sold his first pumpkin pie last year to cross-country trainer Jacob Galik after his father Saleem Nizami told him about it.
âHe (Galik) liked it a lot,â he said. âHe said it was his favorite food he had ever eaten. He ordered again this year.
Nizami sells pumpkin pies through her mother Denitra Nizami’s Facebook page, but obtaining the pumpkins needed to make her creations has been a challenge.
Her grandmother, Marquerite Davis, jumped in and started contacting local farms in search of pumpkins. She was able to buy 45 from Janoski Farms in Clinton, Pa.
Most pumpkins, depending on their size, make 1.5 to 2 pies, according to Denitra Nizami. Smaller ones are more desirable for making pies.
However, he did not try to grow his own pumpkins. Nizami said he was “not much of a gardener”.
Denitra Nizami said her son first became interested in baking pumpkin pies when he was 10 years old.
âWhen he realized that the recipe called for pumpkin boxes, he looked at the porridge in the box and couldn’t do it,â she explained. âHe wanted to make a ‘real’ pumpkin pie with pie pumpkins. And so his quest began. He’s tweaked the recipe several times over the past few years to get it just right.
Nizami’s pies are baked the day before delivery.
Her school day at WPHS starts at 7:25 am and lasts until 2:30 pm. He runs with the boys until about 4 p.m. orders.
After a client asked him if he would deliver the pie to a loved one at Peterson Rehabilitation Center, Nizami decided to make a homemade card and deliver it to anyone locked up or in a nursing home or a rehabilitation center.
Nizami is not averse to a career as a baker.
âI made money. If this continuesâ¦ there might be a future I could look into, âhe said.
For now, Nizami intends to tithe his pies to his home church, The Vineyard Church of Wheeling.
Nizami has always been a 4.0 student since kindergarten, reports his mother. Last year he spent seven months educating his younger brother Koda while his parents worked. He’s also been a winner every year since the fourth year of the Ohio County Schools Math Field Day competition and has been a state winner.
Last summer, he organized a math camp for the youngest students after the other programs ended.
Nizami also acknowledges her family’s help in making the pumpkin pies.
Older brother Jonah – a senior member of the WPHS team and a member of the cross country team – does much of the purchasing and delivery. Mum Denitra coordinates orders, deliveries and pickups, while Dad Saleem helps sanitize the preparation and cooking areas every day.
Grandmother Marguerite continues to roam the tri-state region in search of more pumpkins to fill orders, while her other grandmother Ghazala Nizami ensures that no drop of precious pumpkin is wasted and the seeds. either planted or cooked.
Even little brother Koda kicks in by testing the taste and loading the dishwasher, according to Saleem Nizami.
Isaac Nizami doesn’t expect to be able to offer pumpkin pies on Christmas due to pumpkin supply limitations, but he is considering the possibility of creating another dessert for the weeks before Christmas.
Those who wish to order pies can do so by texting Denitra Nizami through his Facebook page, or by calling or texting 814-244-2567.