Restaurants / Openings

Texas Chef Turns Her Pandemic Job Loss Into a Budding Cookie Empire — Getting Cookie Rich

Lorin Peters Brings Her High-End Culinary Chops to Reimagining a Beloved Simple Treat

BY // 03.12.21
photography Todd White

Austin native chef Lorin Peters enthusiastically talks a mile a minute as we sit in a booth at Houston’s Bludorn, where she introduced her ridiculously divine reimagining of the simple cookie Thursday night. The level of energy displayed explains, at least in part, how she catapulted in a matter of mere months from savory chef to maestro of an exploding cookie empire.

Peters’ endeavor, Cookie Rich, is the silver lining from the pandemic that found her unemployed last March. She had been organizing culinary events for Austin’s Italian hotspot Juniper as well working as a freelance recipe developer and making culinary videos for brands. Then it was over.

Having earned her culinary chops at The French Laundry of three Michelin stars fame and through other cooking-centric endeavors from California to New York, Peters knew she wanted to continue her career in the food arena. And she waned to find a niche market.

“What hasn’t changed in so long? What is something that people still want no matter what the political vibe, no matter what the health vibe,” she asked herself. “What is something that people still want to enjoy and something that hasn’t really changed in a long time, what hasn’t been reinvented?”

Voila! The cookie.

“I was just honestly kind of bored with what was out there for cookie options . . . I have a huge sweet tooth and while I’ve always been a savory chef, I’ve always enjoyed baking as a form of relaxation at home,” Peters tells PaperCity.

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http://www.toddwhite.org (Photo by Todd White)
Lorin Peters’ Cookie Rich offerings come in packages of 12 and of four, available for oder on line. (Photo by Todd White)

In August, this mother of a 2-year-old and wife of famed chef Mathew Peters, also formerly of The French Laundry and New York’s Per Se, made her decision.

“I just went full force,” she says.

Peters spent a month testing recipes and working on a concept. Once settled on her fluffy dome-shaped sandwich cookies with a light creamy filling, she brought in a team to assist with branding and marketing. An investor came on board with funds to build a small commercial kitchen on Austin’s North Lamar close to the University of Texas campus, where Peters had earned a degree in nutritional sciences. (That was when she was thinking pre-med before the culinary arts captured her soul.)

A Ghost Kitchen Cookie Paradise

By December, Peters had launched her operation in the ghost kitchen from where the most beautiful cookies you’ve ever imagined emanate. The dizzying confections are available at the moment for pickup or via delivery partners in Austin with orders placed online. In April, Cookie Rich will start shipping nationwide.

The beautifully boxed cookies come in 10 flavors at the moment, upping to 12 in April, and are sold in boxes of 12 for $33 or boxes of four for $15. Flavors can be mixed and matched to the customer’s likes.

The offerings include such temptations as Lemon Sugar, a sugar cookie made with fresh lemon zest and a tart lemon filling; Chocolate Chip, an upgraded classic with a dark chocolate fudge filling; and Toasted Coconut, a toasted coconut sugar cookie with coconut cream and a dollop of salted caramel. New flavors to be introduced next month are Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, Snickerdoodle with a brown sugar, cinnamon cream cheese filling; and Banana Pudding made with Vanilla Wafers and a creamy banana pudding filling.

So overwhelming has the reception been for Cookie Rich, that Peters finds herself fending off fans who want to franchise the concept, as well as accelerators and investors who apparently know a tasty investment when they see one.

Peters plan is to grow multiple sites, more in Austin, and launching in Houston and San Antonio with brick and mortar shops at some point. Texas cities will be her first venture outside of Austin but then, “Who knows?” she queries. Nashville, Aspen, perhaps New York.

“Our growth will be fully based on where the demand is,” Peters says.

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