Actor & Baker, Paolo Andino, Perfects The Chocolate Chip Cookie During Lockdown
Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
My name is Paolo, I am Cuban American and 20 years ago, I became obsessed with creating a recipe for the perfect cookie.
One that was equal parts crunchy & chewy, sweet & hearty with all that buttery chocolatey flavor packed inside and a lil’ sprinkle of salt for the perfect flavor balance.
After tons of research, experimenting with different kinds of butter, flours, seeds, cocoa amounts, baking times, cookie & chip sizes…I came up with this dough & the name “Don’t Touch My Cookies”. I got such good feedback, that I tried selling them!
At the time, there was no social media so after I exhausted my friends & family, I gave up selling, but I never stopped baking! My cousin Liza has always been a big fan of the cookies and during quarantine, she began envisioning a brighter future for us.
She started with a few Instagram posts & the cookies got so much attention! Within two months we had a website, an LLC, a trademark pending, and every permit & license required to run a small business!
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
Our cookies are based purely on the US. Our tastes and our experiences. We are both foodies with gourmet palates and that has created a cookie that strikes a beautiful balance. From texture to sweetness to chocolate/dough ratio.
This is a product of every cookie we ever ate and loved & hated. We did the research and the work to bring you this delectable morsel of perfection.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
Well, it has been a true lockdown pandemic experience gone right with Don’t Touch My Cookies. As an actor in NYC, I was always looking for the side hustle to generate cash flow. I tried the cookies out there but didn’t have the business savvy to make it fly at the time.
I still made the cookies through the years and last June my cousin Liza (who is now my business partner) encouraged me (very forcefully) to try again. She posted some cookie pics on her Instagram and from there, there was growing interest. It’s interesting how people have dealt with Covid-19.
At first, I thought no one is gonna buy cookies when we are going through this hardship! But then I realized the power of the cookie… It’s literally and figuratively a sweet little joy maker for the senses and the soul.
It’s affordable and delicious so it’s perfect for yourself or anyone else you want to bring a little happiness to. That aspect has been a revelation, and it has been so satisfying for Liza and me to be on the “giving” side of that equation.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
From the beginning, we said that this cookie company was creating itself and using us to do it because things just kept happening at just the right time. That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges.
Dealing with not only LA county but the city of West Hollywood to get the permits and licenses gave us many brain-fried moments. Surprisingly one of the biggest challenges was shipping and finding the right sized box! It was daunting.
We searched and searched, started out shipping in Tupperware containers, and then finally found a box company that made the perfect size. Then figuring out the weight of everything and how to integrate it into the website to work with USPS nearly killed us!
Too much math and conversions into pounds and ounces…we needed a fifth grader! Not to mention that the pandemic had made shipping a nightmare so we had to switch carriers and then go through the whole process again for UPS with new requirements and different boxes. Ugh! Now we flow easily between the two carriers to suit our customer’s needs, but it was a steep learning curve. ❤️🍪
If you had to pick the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level…who would those 3 people be?
Martha Stewart is an icon to me. And she keeps getting better. I think she has relaxed just enough but still keeps her elevated tastes and standards. I’d love to meet her and eat these with her.
It would be a dream to share a plate of my cookies with Cookie Monster and find out what he thinks of them! And then feed each other crazily! Cookie Fight!!!
Finally, Oprah would be my third person. I think she loves good food and I’ve followed much of her favorite things through the years, from Ezell’s in Seattle to a good Moscow Mule.
I am pretty confident she would love these cookies and would be able to promote them to the stratosphere. And then I wanna hang out and just talk spirituality with her while we eat chocolate chip cookie & dulce de leche ice cream sandwiches that I made us!