Tony Maws at Craigie on Main explains it goes back to his grandmother:
In Baba Hannah's kitchen I whipped egg whites for meringue frostings on her lemon sponge cake and helped shape the matzo balls for Passover Seder. I remember the taste of her split pea soup and the smell of her brisket. It was awesome and I still crave them. Nothing Baba Hannah cooked came out of left field. But she made it and it was good and it was a great excuse for our family to come together. It was the best time I had around food.