By Mari Smith
Nichole Berner, a 2006 graduate of Vicksburg High School, has found her passion as a pastry chef. After graduation, she stayed in the Vicksburg area, attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College, taking business classes. Realizing that business did not feel like where she wanted to head in the future, she started seeking out culinary schools. Having fallen in love with the city of Chicago when her grandparents took her there, she found the Illinois Institute of Arts there, applied and was accepted. Nichole spent one year in the Baking and Pastry program, graduating in 2011 with honors.
After graduation, she remained local and worked at Rykse’s in Kalamazoo baking from 2:30 a.m. until almost noon. A move to Lansing has landed her in a job she loves with Cakes-A-Bloomin’ owned by Jody Chirko and Jeff Love. The shop has been in business 45 years and carries cupcakes, cookies, but with the main emphasis on wedding and specialty cakes for all occasions. In her year with Cakes-A-Bloomin’, Nichole’s top baking preference is wedding cakes, which is a large amount of the shop’s business.
Nichole likes the 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. baking hours as she has a daughter, Ava, that is almost 3 years old. When she is not working and caring for her daughter, Nichole also teaches classes at the Alive Center in Charlotte that include fondant, chocolate and baking chemistry. She even volunteered her skills when she was home by baking pies and bread for the workers framing the Vicksburg Community Pavilion last fall. Nicole is the daughter of Denna Berner, and granddaughter of Don and Maureen Wiertella and Bill and Vicki Berner, all of Vicksburg.