Rodney Henry is not your typical addict:. he’s addicted to pies. If pie was a drug, he would be all hopped up on it. But it might be pie that Henry is high on; he’s just all over the place, his personality abundant.
“A lot of my friends would describe me as ‘highly-motivated’ — a bit out of my mind,” Henry said in a previous interview with Food Network.
Henry, the brains behind Midtown’s Dangerously Delicious Pies and Food Network Star finalist, has a certain pie fetish. Passionate isn’t the word for Henry’s take on his favorite pastime. There may not be a word to accurately describe it – piesession? Piessionate?
“It can get kinda crazy,” he said, laughing. “Don’t get me started man; I’ll be goin’ off about pie.”
Henry may have started as a musician, but you’d find pies on the merchandise table alongside the T-shirts. “Every night, we’d be passing around the guitars, playing songs, eatin’ pies, drinkin’ whiskey, and having a ball.”
When he settled down and started a family, he made the decision musicians sometimes have to face. After years of touring, he traded in his axe for a rolling pin.
“I transformed from rock ‘n’ roller to pie man,” he said. “For the last 10 years I’ve been straight up baking pies.”
His Rock ‘n’ Roll Pie Shops are infused with a big part of his former rock ‘n’ roll life. He opened his hometown Baltimore location in March 2003.
In addition to Detroit and Baltimore, there are three shops in Washington D.C. The H Street Corridor spot is aptly located across from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, a music venue and nightclub.
On television, Henry is no stranger to Food Network followers. He’s been a part of many of its programs, including the popular “Chopped” series.
“I was chopped,” he mocked, before laughing.
In its 2011 Halloween episode, “Trick or Treat: Chicken Feet,” Henry was faced with a tricky basket of chicken feet, peppers, rhubarb, and fruit-flavored sweets. The result, Hot Rod’s Chicken Friend Nightmare, got him chopped.
Iron Chef and “Chopped” judge Alex Guarnaschelli admitted that Henry cooked the best chicken foot, but it was too sweet and tasted like a pie. “I’m a pie man,” Henry said. “It’s in my brain.”
And it’s working for him.
Recently he became one of 12 finalists on “Food Network Star,” the show that made Guy Fieri a household name. Will Henry be the next Food Network darling? It’s obvious the camera likes him. And he likes it.
“Four million (viewers) every Sunday night – that’s pretty rad! I get to talk about pie and about the business. Regardless of what happens, they know who I am already, so it’s super cool,” Henry said. “When the judges say all I make is pie, I don’t mind that one bit – I dig it.”
In a strange twist, the June 16 FNS was “Chopped”-themed, and Guarnaschelli, returning to haunt him, appeared as guest judge.
Dun-dun-dun! Was Henry doomed? Not a chance. Rather, he won a share of the Mentor Challenge, was excused from the Star Challenge, and granted episode immunity. “It was funny; after I won the challenge I sat at the table and got to be a judge. I talked to her (Guarnaschelli) and was like, ‘Do you remember me? I made the chicken foot.’”
“She said, ‘to be honest, I don’t remember anyone.’”
Henry has always wanted to be an entertainer, that’s clear. With his on-screen presence, he’s destined to land something.
“I wanna run around and bake pies and meet people. It would be cool to do an Anthony Bourdain-esque thing. I don’t wanna be stuck in a frickin’ studio, and be like Rachel Ray. I want to be able to run around.
“I’m proving to the world that there is something about pies, and it’s really different. Pie is killer! It’s compact, you can take it with you,” he said. “It’s a really awesome thing. You can put almost anything that exists into a pie. And that’s pretty cool. I think people are coming around to understand that.
“There’s nothing better than that, when you see people start to understand what I’m talking about –what I’ve been talking about for a long time. I’ve known what I wanted to do. It takes time, but it’s finally starting to happen.”
Vote Rodney (up to 10 times per day) for the week's most popular Food Network Star at www.foodnetwork.com.
Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4626 Third Street (on Forest St., inside 3rd Street Bar), is open 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, noon to 2 a.m. Saturdays, and noon to midnight on Sundays. Contact them at (313) 727-PIES.