Story and photo by Vivienne Pearson
Liz Jackson, caterer and pastry chef, gives a hint of her training as a scientist when she speaks of recently trialling hemp as a food. ‘I had never used it, so I experimented,’ she says.
Liz’s metallurgy career in her home town of Wollongong was short lived once friends discovered Mullumbimby. ‘They said how fabulous it was – and how cheap!’ After throwing her possessions onto a train, Liz drove up the coast with six friends. ‘And the dog, the cat, and the whole catastrophe. I just wanted out,’ she says.
The group bought 111 acres in Upper Main Arm, backed by a cliff and dropping away to valley and sea views. ‘We were among the very first influx of hippies,’ Liz says. ‘We’d wear a lap-lap only so we could carry a joint.’
The group were essentially town kids experimenting with a different way of living. ‘We blundered along, trying to be farmers. It was an old banana plantation and there were a few avocado trees,’ says Liz. ‘My first foray into selling food was avocado vinaigrettes.’
The group built a house by hand before gradually going separate ways. Liz satisfied her own need for change by working as a ship’s cook for two years, including with her preschooler daughter, Tara. ‘We were very enterprising,’ Liz says. ‘We’d make prickly-pear pies and barter them with trawler fishermen for prawns and fish.’
On returning, Liz started catering for touring musicians, including international Bluesfest acts and musicians. Liz catered for Bob Dylan on tour in Ballina in the late 90s. ‘He gave me a certificate saying it was the best food he’d had on the whole tour!’
The certificate graced the wall at Luscious Foods (in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate), which was Liz’s business from 2000 till 2013. A double knee replacement that took longer than expected to heal signalled the need for further change. Liz sold Luscious Foods to Zohar Flantz, the current owner, and now runs Celebrations Catering, offering catering for dinner parties and small conferences, as well as cakes for cafes, weddings and private orders.
Liz also volunteers with Liberation Larder, coordinating the menus and volunteers for more than 600 meals each week. She also does ‘food rescue’, including from the recent Splendour festival.
Despite being a self-confessed ‘TAFE dropout’ Liz values education and continues to do pastry-cheffing short courses to ensure that her specialty cake list, featuring mouth-watering options such as Hazelnut Mocha and Moroccan, and Almond and Pistachio with fresh mint and orange-flower syrup, is up with trends.
Celebrations Catering: Cakes and catering for small groups and any special occasion worth celebrating. Email: [email protected] / Ph: 0414 895 441