STORY TAYLOR WALKER | PHOTOS JIM PETERSON
Grandma was right all along — food brings people together. A study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that closeness and trust between strangers improves when they’re noshing on the same things. This means a plate of cookies at your next soiree will do more than quiet rumbling tummies. But not just any cookie will do the trick. Professional party hosts know that the real conversation starters are custom cookies.
“We can match color schemes, party themes, anything.” The smile on Theresa Moody’s face broadened as she described the infinite shapes and designs created from over 800 cookie cutters in the back room of her shop.
Theresa is one half of the bubbly baking duo who own One Haute Cookie in Garden City. She and her partner, Erin Gallegos, met in a commissary kitchen during a busy holiday season when Erin asked Theresa for help fulfilling an exceptionally large order. “She stepped right in and we hit it off immediately,” Erin recalled. After the flour settled, Erin invited Theresa to join the cookie biz long term. “Obviously, I said yes!” Theresa interjected.
It turns out creating a custom cookie is not a simple affair. The lifecycle for a batch of treats begins at least one full week before the pick-up date. For faster processing, Erin and Theresa recommend including photos, logos, invitations and other artifacts with the order request. After receiving design approval, the baking begins. Cooking, cooling, and cutting take place before using icing to turn plain-faced cookies into works of art. Although vanilla sugar cookies are the most popular request, chocolate espresso, red velvet and pumpkin spice are also on the menu, to name a few.
Despite the early mornings and frequent long nights, it’s clear that neither Erin nor Theresa consider their time at the shop a chore. As Theresa puts it, “I don’t come here and dread it. Even though I’m working twice the hours I did as a teacher, I’m so happy.”
The two Garden City bakers radiate a sense of bliss. Their joy is evident, even in the bright teal and clean white color scheme of the small shop. As I toured the store front, Erin pointed out their recent buy, a refrigerated display case. “For us, it’s a sign of growth.” Inside the case was an explosion of goodies available to purchase, including a unicorn cake, a cake topped with whimsical watermelons and cookies shaped like seahorses, turtles and rainbows.
To the right of the case, near the cash register was a framed definition of haute: high-class, fancy; high-toned, elevated; unique, one-of-a-kind. Reflecting on my time with Erin and Theresa, it’s evident why they chose haute to be part of their name. Their cookies create an unforgettable experience for customers at tradeshows, families at baby showers and colleagues at office celebrations.
“It’s a euphoric feeling to bring this kind of happiness to people,” Erin said. It’s no wonder their cookies are so sweet. But don’t take my word for it, take a bite out of one yourself!