Anyone who has tried Cassandra Simmons’ Southern-inspired pies — particularly the lemon meringue — should extend their gratitude to the culinary arts school at Contra Costa College, where she graduated in the mid-1980s. Still, no school can teach the charm that comes naturally to Simmons. The owner of Cassandra’s Wedding Cakes at 321 23rd St. in Richmond has been charming local residents with her wit and pies for more than three decades. Much of her products end up on store shelves in the Bay Area, from Berkeley Bowl to even some 7-Elevens.
And she may be the most confident bakery chef in town. About that lemon meringue pie: “I make the crust from scratch, the filling all from scratch, there are no preservatives, and of course the meringue is nothing but egg white,” Simmons said. “I make all of this from scratch and it is delicious…I will pay you back if this is not the best pie you have ever tasted.” After graduating from culinary school, Simmons started off at Harbour Way at Candy’s Dream Pies, named after her husband. She then moved to her current location in 1998. “What I love about Richmond is its smallness,” she said. “I like the smallness of the community, the camaraderie of the community and also the mixed race in the community. I’m proud of being here and so happy and blessed.” Story, photo and video by Mike Racoon Eyes Kinney