Austinite and UT alumna Lorin Peters has a 10-year background as a fine dining chef (including the position of chef de partie at New York’s The French Laundry), and yet it was her hobby for baking that dictated her next career move: launching Cookie Rich this past fall. After finding herself without a job in the wake of the pandemic, she had spent days thinking of ways to re-enter the culinary scene. Her best idea? Reimagining the traditional cookie. Taking two bite-sized center pieces (guaranteeing the dessert is both gooey and crustless), she then cemented them together with a cream filling. The result was both elegant and addicting, and was soon picked up by Kendra Scott’s flagship café. Today, you can order batches of Cookie Rich online to pick up from their kitchen (located at 2201 N. Lamar Blvd.)—or have them delivered straight to your door. Ten permanent flavors include everything from oatmeal currant + maple to toasted coconut + salted caramel, while seasonal specials offer more elaborate concoctions (this Valentine’s Day look for their dark chocolate dipped + gold dusted strawberry cheesecake bites). Here, Peters explains what it was like to create her brand from scratch.
“I was unemployed for seven months after COVID-19 hit; I mean, the restaurant industry just stopped. I was scratching my brain for what to do and literally, one day, when I was baking, a light bulb went off. I thought this is what the culinary world needs. We haven’t redone the cookie in a really long time, so I wanted to do something completely different. With my fancy food background, most people would expect that I would make the cookie’s presentation pretty—but it wouldn’t taste good. I wanted the cookie shape and size to look different. I wanted you to be enjoying the best part of a cookie, the soft, gooey center, in one bite.”
“After I decided to mix-up the traditional cookie, I had research and development sessions in my home kitchen. My original idea was a big, fat cookie, thinking I would make it even better, then I realized that wasn’t going to set me apart. Every day, I would take my daughter to school, then go home and experiment with different shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors until I perfected it. I realized two bite-sized, light cookies stuck together with a creamy filling, would change the classic cookie.”
“I want every flavor to be craveable. I originally made a list of 10 nostalgic flavors like chocolate chip, red velvet, and funfetti…Then, of course, I came up with seasonal flavors; December featured pumpkin and gingerbread and this year for Valentine’s day I’m making a strawberry cookie dipped in dark chocolate. We would love to start getting the local community involved, maybe by having local celebrities like Matthew McConaughey come up with a flavor, and we’ll feature it for a few months.”
“The pandemic for chefs has been very hard. Brick and mortars are struggling right now and relying on takeout to survive, so I just went straight to the take out stage until I could build my brand and company. We’re in a ghost kitchen right now, two other chefs and me. We have a pickup location on Lamar where customers can pick up their online orders, and we bring them out and place them in their vehicle, so there’s no contact. In the pandemic, you never know what will happen, so I’m thankful we adjusted with the times and created a product that can adapt to the new norm of takeout.”
The Road Ahead
“I wanted Cookie Rich to have range; to be something you can eat watching Netflix in your Pajamas or a gift for Beyoncé. One customer brought dozens of Cookie Rich for a tea party, so I hope once things get back to normal, supplying events could be a new market we deep-dive into. Eventually, I hope to open a brick and mortar. It would be nice to expand to more than cookies, maybe a coffee shop too, so customers could have a cup of coffee with their cookies? I just wanted to make sure people liked the cookies before I expanded. The cookies are still a priority.”