hello everyone! hope you had a great weekend. sam and i skipped down to the jersey shore - not that jersey shore, or at least, not that part of it. we attempted to boogie board (sam with some success, and me with none at all) and read and listened to the news and watched tv and ate a lot of tacos. it was lovely.
i wanted to share a q&a with monique antoinette, who makes these amazing cobbler cookies and happens to be tory burch's favorite pastry chef - i thought it was a nice intersection of pastry and fashion, two of my greatest loves. i was lucky enough to be put in touch with her and, as a girl who hopes to open her own business someday, i found her story to be very inspiring.
Q. How did you get started in the food industry?
A. My career as an interior designer had ended. I was in quiet contemplation as to what was my next career. I happen to be reading a book that talked about everyone having a gift or talent that provided a product or service to mankind. This was a gift or talent that we performed without any effort. The author suggested looking around within our lives for it. Three weeks later, I noticed my friends were paying me to bake cookies for the holiday season. I baked cookies every season but this season was different. This concept had my full attention. Two friends suggested I start a baked goods business. I thought it was ridiculous. After them not letting up, I decided to ask god directly if he wanted me to bake cookies. This was a big deal because I’m not religious! Well, he answered back 20 minutes after I asked this question, through a total stranger at the grocery store on aisle 9 at Ralphs. This lady looked into my basket of baked goods and stated, “God created you to feed people your baked goods. He gave this job to you because you serve people from the purest place in your heart. He has a fortune in store for you. The only thing standing in your way is your faith. As soon as you let go of what you are doing for money, he will provide you with everything you will need to feed the people. Needless to say, the next day I made a commitment to getting this business started. Four days later, from a dream, I received instructions on how to infuse two of America’s already favorites; the pie and the cookie. And, the Cobbler Cookie Collection was born.
Q. What did you do before you were a baker (if anything?)
A. I had a career in Interior Design with a specialty in Faux Finish Painting.
Q. What is your favorite thing to bake?
A. My husband is a big Italian, so my favorites are Italian Food and Desserts.
Q. You own your own business - how did you get that
A. Once I committed to this new career, I realized I was passionate about food, but I was clueless on how to run a food business. I pressed pause for six months and went to work as a General Manager for an organic food corporation. I managed a staff and three locations. After this training, I hired experts to consult with and to construct a business plan. From there I began promoting the product. The orders followed. I deal with the business in phases, in order to not lose my mind. I am on target with my plan so far. The next step is to acquire 375k for a national retail launch.
Any advice? I literally started with $27. I purchased my product development/packaging ingredients from the 99cent store. What propelled me towards my destiny was this quote: Start were you are, use what you have, do what you can ~Arthur Ashe. This quote is literally how I got this business off the ground. When I lose focus with frustration, I sit still, and then allow myself to revisit this quote, and then I take another step towards what I know I’m here to do.
Q. How did you start working with Tory Burch?
A. My daughter works for Tory. She shared with me how Tory got started in her living room. From that I felt inspired to succeed. I created dialogue, “ that if Tory can do it, I can do it”. It was like Girl Power energy for me. My daughter called me one afternoon and said Tory will be in the store later today, I think you two should meet. So, I thought this would give me the opportunity to share the dessert with her and also let her know how much she inspired me. In the backroom of the store she tried a Banana Coconut Cobbler Cookie and was hooked. She loves every flavor so much she orders them for herself and employees at her corporate office twice a month. What a great way to treat herself and show her appreciation to her employees. I love her spirit.
Q. What are your other interests, besides baking?
A. I love, love, love writing, it’s my second career. I love being selfish with me. I sneak away from my life to go the movies in the middle of the day. And also take myself to lunch or dinner. Experiencing a great meal and being able to talk to the people around me or the chef about the meal is like winning the lottery.
Q. What’s your new book called and about?
A. I have been putting a cook book together for a year and a half now but in the meantime my first published book is actually being released next month. It’s titled Grateful for Grief: Seasons of Transformation. I lost my only son to suicide in 2004. The experience was the most remarkable human experience of my entire lifetime thus far. I fell in love with my grief and found gratitude for it. I arrived at this choice after realizing the denial of grief was literally killing me and my mind. In 2011, I will launch a web series called, “Let’s Talk about Grief from a Higher Point of Consciousness”. The silence of grief is a killer of mankind; it’s a heart attack, its cancer. Six billion people exist on this planet. The one thing we all share in common is at some point we will all deal with grief. The goal is to not deal with grief alone or in silence!
Q. And would you like to share a recipe?
A. Yes I would. One of my favorites is a dish my Guido husband loves so much. I have named it Mancini Fettuccini.
1 lb. Fettuccini pasta
1 lb. Boneless Chicken or Shrimp or maybe a combination of both
8 oz. Canned Coconut milk
½ cup Shredded Coconut
6 oz. Drained Water Chestnuts
¼ cup Golden Raisins
4 Chopped Garlic Cloves
8oz. Canned, drained artichoke hearts
6 oz. Canned, drained marinated mix mushrooms
½ cup Sour Cream
a couple pinches each of thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper,
and if you like spicy, you can add a bit of cayenne pepper.
Boil pasta according to package directions.
Bake boneless chicken, cool and cut into sizes you like.
If using shrimp or combining with chicken, clean, de-vein and save for later.
In large sauce pan add: coconut milk, water chestnuts, chopped garlic cloves, artichoke hearts, and marinated mixed mushrooms. Mix ingredients together on heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add boneless chicken or shrimp, cook for 5 minutes more. Finally add shredded coconut and sour cream for rich creamy finish.
Serve on top of Fettuccini.
If you are married to an Italian feed him until he falls asleep. You’ll have a nice quiet evening!