Local pastry chef Jason Hisley has another accolade to add to his resume: winner of The Food Network’s March 14 episode of ‘Cake Wars.’ Hisley, owner and executive chef of La Cakerie in Towson, is no stranger to competition. Along with his recent Cake Wars appearance, he has competed on Cupcake Wars, Cutthroat Kitchens, and Sweet Genius. While he enjoys the challenge and competition of the cooking shows, his Alleghany Avenue bakery and lunch spot make him most proud.
Hisley, a Baltimore native, grew up in Bel Air. Despite attending Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and The Restaurant School in Vitznau, Switzerland, Hisley longed to return to his hometown. He explains, “I love Baltimore…the city, the people, the culture, and the art…the restaurant and food industry has taken off in the past 10-15 years.”
Towson provided the perfect demographic for his store, Hisley says. When he opened La Cakerie four and a half years ago, he wanted to create a shop that extended beyond cakes and cupcakes to include lunch for local business people and college students as well as treats for families and the surrounding community.
La Cakerie, Towson is Hisley’s main store. Most of the production, quality control, and training take place there. He also has a shop in Mount Vernon and looks forward to the upcoming opening of another location on The Avenue in Hamden as well as a partnership with the Jaded Bean in Bel Air. Hisley notes that he has benefited from savvy business partners who have helped him to grow his business in very strategic and smart ways. He quips, “we have developed a great ‘recipe’ for [our] business to expand.”
Of course, the trademarks of each of his stores are the pastries. For Hisley, pastry production is artistry, and his winning Willie Wonka cake on Cake Wars was no exception. In commemoration of the character’s 45th anniversary, Hisley and his assistant Elliot created a five-foot Willy Wonka-inspired cake that, in Hisley’s words, was “ridiculously over the top.”
But it was not the most over-the-top cake he has produced, Hisley says. As one of the premier cake designers in Maryland, Hisley has been enlisted to produce cakes priced upwards of $2,000. One cake featured a man fishing from a yacht while another Halloween-inspired cake showed a bride and groom with severed heads. In 2016, he anticipates he will bake for 250-300 weddings.
At La Cakerie, Hisley has worked to create a shop that evokes warmth and community. He takes care to create artistic storefronts that appear both chic and inviting. He wants his customers to stop in, stay for lunch, and enjoy the delicious pastries for which has become so well known. He reminders newcomers that La Cakerie is not just about cakes and cupcakes, but a dynamic environment that caters to the local community. In the meantime, the local community can celebrate its newest celebrity chef who hints that more appearances on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel are on the horizon.