Cousin Jacks Pasty Co has a dark polished interior, but the gleaming front window display of crisp golden pasties catches the eye of every passer-by as they hurry through Bondi Junction towards the train station or their next appointment. The beauty of these delectable pasties is that they are designed to be eaten on the run.
“Ninety-five percent of our customers are takeaway,” says store owner Mark Bedford. “They are on their way to work or about to catch a bus, and a pasty is easier to eat on the go than a pie or even a sandwich.”
The secret to the convenience of the pasty is in the design.Traditionally, Cornish women made these pasties for their husbands who worked down in the mines. The men could not come up for lunch, so they needed a substantial meal they could eat with their hands. So the women would cut the dough into rounds and fill it with local ingredients – beef, swede, potato and onion. As a special treat, they might tuck some sweet ingredients, such as apple and cinnamon, into one corner of the pasty. They would fold the pasty over and crimp the edges firmly to make a strong seal.
Not only was this easy for men to eat down in the mines, the pasty’s thickly crimped edge gave them something to hold onto as they ate, without contaminating their meal.
“Now the name ‘Cornish pasty’ is protected by the European Union,” says Mark. “You legally can’t call it a Cornish pasty unless it has those ingredients.”
However, there are no limits on what a Cousin Jacks pasty can contain, and the Cousin Jacks team – comprising Mark, his wife Sanna and dad Terry – revel in creating new flavours and combinations to fill their pasties. “We currently have fifteen savoury flavours and four sweet varieties,” Mark says. “Every month, our Facebook followers vote for the Pasty of the Month, and then we make the winning pasty.” This month Facebook followers are choosing between a chicken, avocado and brie pasty or a beef goulash pasty
The dough, made from scratch on the premises, is known as a “rough puff pastry” as it is halfway between short crust and a puff pastry.
“It’s still light to eat, but not as light as a puff pastry,” says Mark. “So it’s firm enough to hold in the filling. We’ve designed the recipe very carefully to ensure there is no trans fat and no cholesterol. We get so many customers whose doctors have warned them off pastry products like pasties, and we can assure them they don’t have to worry about the fat content and cholesterol when eating at Cousin Jacks.”
Mark’s love of pasties originated during his childhood in England. “I grew up in West Sussex, and we’d go on family holidays to Cornwall. I remember walking around the beautiful countryside, walking our dogs and having pasties for lunch. As I grew up, I’d have a pasty at the pub with a beer.”
Mark has been living in Australia for ten years, and during his frequent trips back home, he has seen pasty shops crop up all over the UK. “But there was nothing equivalent here, so I wanted to introduce the pasty to Australia.”
Cousin Jacks Pasty Co opened in Bondi Junction in May 2012. With no idea what demand would be like, Mark opted for hiring small-scale equipment from Silver Chef Equipment Funding. “We were an unknown entity, so we weren’t sure how the concept would take off. If the worst had happened, Silver Chef would have charged us an administration fee to return the equipment, and we found this less risky than purchasing or traditional leasing. At the same time, we wanted the flexibility to expand the capacity of our equipment.”
It was quickly apparent that locals were very receptive to the pasty, so Mark upgraded his equipment to accommodate a bigger customer base. “Silver Chef has given us a great deal of flexibility. Whenever we upgrade, our weekly rental goes up slightly and we can keep up with demand without any complications.”
Having recently celebrated Cousin Jacks first birthday with a giant pasty cake, Mark and his wife Senna are looking to the future. “In the long term we’d like to see Cousin Jacks become a franchise so we designed our logo and our shopfront to reflect that.” Mark envisions that the second shop in the Cousin Jacks franchise could be opening in the Sydney CBD within the next year. “We can see it happening,” says Mark. “For now, we are concentrating on providing a quality product along with good customer service.”