In the heart of N.C. Central University, a sophomore transfer student captures the hearts and taste buds of his fellow students through his baking skills and journey.
Meet Anthony Jackson, a multi-talented young man whose passion for baking has not only turned heads but became a source of healing and inspiration during challenging times.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jackson moved to Virginia at the age of seven, where he developed his love for basketball, dancing, and the culinary arts. Transferring from Virginia Wesleyan University, Jackson is currently pursuing a business major with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
Jackson’s journey into the world of baking began in high school when he enrolled in a culinary course. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to adapt and take his culinary education into his own hands.
“I couldn’t finish culinary [class] in my junior year,” he said. I ended up taking it again in my senior year.”
After the tragic loss of his best friend in a train accident, he turned to baking as a form of therapy and tribute. “My best friend really loved my cookies and my baked goods, so I keep going for him,” he said.
Another source of inspiration was in Jackson’s high school culinary teachers, who ignited his desire to teach and share his talents. He also attributes his father’s culinary skills as a significant source of inspiration. Cooking runs in his family, and although he was not formally taught, his exposure to the culinary world motivated him to explore and refine his skills.
“What inspired me was seeing my dad be able to cook,” he said. “In most traditional homes the wife usually cooks, but the fact that my dad did, made me want to cook for my family when I got older.”
He started experimenting with baking from home, creating an array of desserts for family and friends. One of his most memorable creations was the first he made apple turnover, a dish that brought a smile to his family’s faces and ignited his passion for baking.
“The reason it was so memorable is because I had my dad try it. He ate it, he looked at me and said ‘This is like something you get from Maggiano’s.’”
Jackson began selling his baked products to the neighborhood. His tasty creations gained popularity, and his clientele expanded from Woodbridge to Fredericksburg.
Looking ahead, Jackson dreams of opening his own bakery one day, where he can share his passion with a broader audience. He often spends his free time baking, with Sundays being a day of culinary creativity.
“My favorite thing to make would be the puddings and cookies. I have been experimenting with different flavors,” he said. “Cookies is what I started with, and I enjoy coming up with different flavors like strawberry shortcake, smores and birthday cakes.” “I later expanded on puddings by coming up with a strawberry cheesecake version, then an Oreo version.”
Friends of Jackson really enjoy his creations.
Alajia Dunn, a sophomore, said that the cinnamon roll looked appetizing, and it was the first thing she had from him. “I also remember the time he started making banana pudding. I was always raised eating banana pudding, so I wondered how it was going to taste,” she said. “It was really good.”
Langston Thomas, a sophomore, was won over by both the desserts and the experience. “We chill with him in the kitchen while he’s cooking and he lets us taste test some things,” he said. “A lot of people enjoy his stuff.”
They recall the enticing aroma of Anthony’s creations, the kitchen get-togethers, and the feeling that he bakes with a whole lot of love.
“People come in the kitchen, and we just enjoy ourselves and play music while he’s cooking,” said Ramiyah Mayfield, a sophomore.
Jackson says that when he bakes something to perfection, a wide grin spreads across his face, and it feels as if his soul dances.
Jackson crafts his desserts, and his friends eagerly anticipate each creation. As he continues to pursue his business studies and his passion for baking, Jackson stands as an inspiring example of resilience, creativity, and the ability to turn a passion into a source of healing and joy for those around him.