30 January 2024

Five minutes with Debbie Went, Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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two women in cafe kitchen

Debbie Went with staff member Hayley Gregory. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who is Debbie Went? I was born in Melbourne, and we moved to Sydney and then to Junee when I was about 12 because my father was in the army. I moved to Wagga about 15-20 years ago and was a chef at the Settlers Village in Estella. I was out of work and the opportunity to purchase the cafe [Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway] came up, so I bought it. And I’ve had it for about 11 years.

We get people from all over the place coming to the cafe, particularly lots of tradies. Serving the community all these years has mostly been good. I’ve seen young kids grow up and turn into nice adults. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people.

I’m looking to sell the cafe at the moment because I think I’ve had enough. There have been some good times and some hard times, too.

I’m hoping to travel around Australia after I sell the place.

Best recent dining experience: I have not been out for a long time and the last time I ate out was two years ago in Canberra. I had pasta carbonara and it was beautiful.

READ ALSO Five minutes with Mr and Mrs Daniels, Hog’s Breath Cafe

Favourite cuisine: My favourite cuisine is Chinese and I love a good honey chicken.

The ingredient I cannot live without: Spices. I can’t pick any particular spice. It’s the whole range.

Best coffee spot in Wagga: I usually make my own coffee. I’ve got my own coffee machine. If I had to pick one, it would have to be McDonald’s. I enjoy black coffee, so I’m not too fussy.

cafe burger

The must-try Cracker burger. Photo: Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene: I think we pretty much have got it all. I did hear they’re going to bring Oporto.

Favourite place to lunch in Wagga: I really like going to Hog’s Breath Cafe if I ever go out.

cafe chicken wraps

Cracker Jack wraps. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

A must-try on our menu: The specialty burgers. The Cracker comes with chips, chicken, bacon, cheese and gravy. It’s very popular.

Most used ingredient at Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway: The most used ingredient would be potatoes. We make a lot of chips.

Our top pick from our desserts: My caramel slices are the most popular.

caramel slices

Debbie’s famous caramel slices. Photo: Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway.

My biggest culinary influence: My father. He taught me the love of making things. He used to experiment and he made me excited about food. I started cooking with my dad when I was about 12 years old.

Favourite cookbook: Lots of the Women’s Weekly series.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: Mock Orange Cafe. I’m impressed by what she [Roslyn Mitchell] did with the cafe.

Death-row meal: My death-row meal would have to be a dessert. Pavlova with black coffee.

Where I am travelling next: All over Australia, hopefully.

cafe burger pack

Cracker Jack Cafe’s burger pack. Photo: Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway.

Dream destination: My dream destination is Canada and would love to visit the Rocky Mountains.

My biggest fear: I have lots and one of them is driving. I’ve had the fear for about 15 years. I don’t know what happened, I can’t go near traffic lights because I will end up having big meltdowns and panic attacks. I don’t have a car. I go by bus or I get an Uber.

READ ALSO Five minutes with Mr and Mrs Pastor, Shepherd’s Hub

My least-favourite food: I hate tomatoes.

My top-three cooking tips: You’ve got to make the food look good. Taste is important, so you must always taste it. And experiment.

Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway is at 101 Main Street, Lake Albert, and is open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 8 pm.

If you’re interested in purchasing Cracker Jack Cafe and Takeaway, call Debbie on 6922 4439.

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