For Samantha A. Peavy, life, like lasagna, has many layers to it, each with lessons in resilience, endurance, loving again and victory. As the author of Life Through Lasagna Eyes: The Recipes for Life and award-winning owner and chef of Sam’s Gourmet Lasagna, Peavy shares her love and lessons with family, friends and the community through her passion for making innovative lasagna.
A Chicago native who relocated to Virginia Beach this year, Peavy found her calling through making lasagna in the wake of tragedy. On Valentine’s Day 2006, she lost her 18-year-old daughter, Amanda S. Gallon, when she was caught in the crosshairs of a shooting.
Peavy says that her daughter was a “warrior in motivation,” who always told her to “Do you, Ma.” Recognizing that her homemade lasagna had been one of Gallon’s favorite childhood foods, Peavy took heed to her daughter’s words by expanding on her passion, helping to keep a balance in her life after her daughter passed and as Peavy went through a divorce. “It gave me another set of eyes to look through,” she says: her lasagna eyes.
Peavy’s lasagna made its way around Chicago, as she gave her dishes to pasta lovers throughout the suburbs, at baking events and even on the bus, serving gourmet lasagna to bus drivers. The demand followed, so Peavy took her recipes to the marketplace of regional grocers and restaurants with 80 varieties of lasagna, made for each season of the year, featuring ingredients sourced from local growers and a homemade feel.
Peavy’s style of using fresh ingredients with her made-from-scratch lasagna was carried down through her grandparents, Eddie and Bertha Gallon, who had their own backyard garden, and her aunt, Earnestine Harris, who encouraged her cooking. Some of her favorites include her award-winning Black Bean Barbecue Chili Lasagna, Kale Vegetable Lasagna, Steak and Potato Lasagna, made with a signature steak sauce, and Spicy Chicken Lasagna with Pineapple Mango Salsa (see the recipe here).
Peavy details the story of her success, combined with her life lessons, lasagna-making and recipes into her own book to impassion and uplift those facing trying times. “Don’t let the circumstances you’re in silence you,” she says. “Listen to your voice.”
In June, Peavy married her high school sweetheart, Marlon, whom she reconnected with after 31 years and fondly describes as “My Ouie Gouie.” Their relationship brings Peavy and her lasagna to Coastal Virginia where she’s excited to work with local grocers to share her layers of made-from-love lasagna.
Samantha and Marlon Peavy are donating 5 percent of book sales from Life Through Lasagna Eyes: The Recipes for Life to gun violence prevention nonprofits and have recently expanded donations to include Thy Kingdom Church in support of its vision for the community. To purchase the book visit Samantha-Author.com. For info on Peavy’s lasagna, visit SamsGourmetLasagna.com.