21 March 2024

Five minutes with Lisa Jackson, Berkeley Cakes and Pies

| Dione David
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Colourful cupcakes with edible flowers from Berkeley Cakes and Pies

Berkeley Cakes and Pies is a firm favourite among locals. Photo: Berkeley Cakes and Pies.

In a nutshell, who is Lisa Jackson?

I’m Lisa Jackson, the co-owner of Berkeley Cakes and Pies. I run it with my husband Alan, who is a qualified and talented pastry chef.

What is Berkley Cake and Pies?

Berkeley Cakes and Pies has been here for about 17 years. Alan and I have been in the industry since we were in our teens, but we decided all those years ago to take the plunge and work for ourselves. We wanted to make the most of Alan’s talent – he’s a great pastry chef.

Over the years we’ve really grown. We are best known for our pies and cakes but the shop is just one side of the business. We also do catering, and there’s a cafe arm to the business where we make things like hamburgers, bacon and egg rolls, salads, bowls and sandwiches. We also do wholesale, as well as pie drives for fundraising.

Hamburger with the lot at Berkeley Cakes and Pies

A “hamburger with the lot” is for the no-nonsense burger lover who wants fresh ingredients. Photo: Berkeley Cakes and Pies.

What’s Berkley Cakes and Pies’ signature creation?

The lamingtons are very popular, we can do those by the tray. But we also make a lot of celebration cakes and I think we’re a bit of a go-to in the area for that. We average 30 to 40 celebration cakes per weekend.

Our cake decorator Chris is fantastic. She blows me away with what she can create.

What’s your favourite cuisine?

I would have to say Italian food. It’s the pasta that gets me.

Pink and blue cake that says boy or girl, from Berkeley Cakes and Pies

Berkeley Cakes and Pies cake decorator Chris is highly skilled. Photo: Berkeley Cakes and Pies.

What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?

I think eggs. They’re pretty vital in baking, but I also enjoy them for breakfast, and I love a simple egg sandwich for lunch.

Who is your biggest culinary influence?

My husband. He’s been a pastry chef since he was 14. He’s 60 this year, so he’s very experienced!

He has an incredible passion for what he does. He has worked in the hotel industry at the likes of the Sheraton and Hilton and has experience with fine dining cakes and desserts. He makes all our cakes and pastries in-house, and he’s very old-school, so you’re guaranteed that authentic homemade taste. He’s very good at what he does.

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What’s inspiring you right now?

Part of the cake business is keeping up with trends, because they change all the time in the cake industry. Sometimes, it’s country-style tower cakes with minimalist icing and florals; other times, it’s back to the old-fashioned number cakes. Right now it’s “burn cakes”, and they’re popular for expecting parents at baby showers. You light it and the icing burns and underneath it will reveal if you’re having a girl or boy.

Where in the Wollongong area is your go-to for dining out?

We’ve been going down to Georgia Rose. I usually opt for smashed avo, but their menu has a lot of variety. It’s good quality food, the freshness is there, and the food is affordable.

What do you think of as an iconic Wollongong food institution?

Da Orlando in Wollongong. It’s Italian – my favourite. They have excellent service and beautiful food.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

The Tavern at The Links in Shell Cove is lovely, and you get views of the golf course. We also quite like Waterfront Tavern at the Shellharbour Marina. They both have what we’re after for a special occasion – a nice ambience, good service and, of course, good food.

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Favourite bar?

I don’t drink, but Alan quite enjoys Perch Bar. Again the food there is pasta, pizza and modern Italian, and it’s really good, so everybody is happy.

What’s your go-to coffee?

Georgia Rose. I don’t drink coffee – I’m more of a juice person – but Alan likes coffee, and we can get both there.

Baby on board cake with surfboard and sea icing from Berkeley Cakes and Pies

Berkley Cakes and Pies has become a destination for celebration cakes in the Illawarra. Photo: Berkeley Cakes and Pies.

Who do you admire in the local food scene?

Brad and Renee at The Happy Fox. They own The Perch and the one opposite Shellharbour Beach, too. They’re a lovely young couple and always so friendly; their food is amazing and their staff provide excellent service.

Favourite cookbook?

My husband is the cook in the family, so I honestly don’t have one!

Colourful birthday cake with My Little Pony decorations from Berkeley Cakes and Pies

Cakes can be created for any theme. Photo: Berkeley Cakes and Pies.

What are your top baking tips?

I’m no cook, but I learned a few tips from Alan. For starters, always check that your cake is cooked through: don’t just take the recipe’s word for it. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t follow that simple step!

And of course, always use the freshest possible ingredients.

Berkeley Cakes and Pies is located at Shop 2/65 Winnima Way, Berkeley, and is open Monday to Saturday from 6 am to 4 pm (closed Sunday).

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