This week, we caught up with Ken Gingsburg, the founder of Ken & Jesse’s Cookies.
1. WHAT INSPIRED THE CREATION OF KEN & JESSE’S COOKIES?
I have always loved baking since a young age, especially being in the kitchen when my grandmother would be baking. For over 20 years I have been making freshly baked cookies for my children at home. I always enjoyed how the smell of a freshly baked cookies would fill the house and then hearing them run down the stairs when I yelled “cookies are ready”.
As they are homemade, each cookie would have a slightly different shape and slight variations on how they baked. I would always ask them to pick which one they wanted and I was always amazed as each of my kids would always have a different favourite.
In addition to the house, I would bake cookies for them to take to school as just a treat or for their birthdays. Their friends would rave about how good they were and continuously requested them again and again. With my children about to graduate university and my wife wanting a new challenge, I thought about how we can take our cookies to market and let everyone enjoy a freshly baked Authentic American Cookie.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I met with Jesse and pitched this crazy idea I had about bringing the freshly baked cookie experience to London. He was interested at first but needed to better understand the business proposition and of course, try the cookies. After weeks of discussions, we decided to launch Ken & Jesse’s Cookies in 2012, which is now sold in Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Whole Foods, Leon, Flat Planet and few other café’s and bars.
2. WHAT MAKES KEN & JESSE’S UNIQUE?
Ken & Jesse’s cookies are unique to London as they are Authentic American Cookies made in London. Crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. It’s all about using the finest possible ingredients and finding the perfect blend of those ingredients.
The core recipe is based off a traditional American cookie but has been modified over the years and tested to perfection by my children. It has 100% real butter compared to other cookies that use margarine, palm seed or rapeseed oil. I also use a blend of light & brown sugars which has molasses and therefore contribute to the moister inside. Plus, a 53% cocoa chocolate chip adds that luscious rich chocolate to the overall experience. Ultimately it is the people and the processes in making the cookie dough. The kitchen is run by my son & daughter who graduated university in London and still had a desire to be part of the cookie business. Each dough ball sold is made in small batches and continue to have the human touch throughout the entire process.
3. WHAT EXCITING PLANS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
We just launched the Ken & Jesse’s Bake @ Home product which has been in the planning for some time. For us, this is the ultimate cookie experience, a freshly baked cookie right out of the oven. The launch and feedback of the launch at Whole Foods Market Kensington was such a success, we will now look to roll out the first line, Classic Chocolate Chip, to the other Whole Food Market locations by the end of the year. Once this is accomplished, we will launch a multi-flavour pack which includes our Triple Chocolate and White Chocolate Chunk and then our Gluten Free dough. Other plans are still top secret!
4. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
The number one bit of advice is to start a business in something you are passionate about. A new business consumes every part of you, mentally & physically, and if you don’t love what you are doing every single day, night & weekend, it will be reflected in your business and personal life. On a more technical basis, I would highly recommend writing a business plan to help you fully think through about your product, business model, financial model and competition. Finally, get advice from a friend or family member who has tried and succeeded or even tried and failed.
5. IF YOU WERE TO MAKE A COOKIE TO SYMBOLISE LONDON, WHAT WOULD BE IN IT?
This is the toughest question I have ever been asked. Where do I start. Is it a place, a building, a monument, the Queen, the history, the accent, diversity, music, parks, festivals, the flag???? Here we go: The Union Jack – A blend of cranberries, blueberries and white chocolate in a moist cookie dough made with Real English butter and Golden Brown sugar. The perfect blend of the Red, White and Blue that perfectly represents an American Cookie in London.
6. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES IN LONDON TO HANG OUT IN?
There are so many as London is a great place to live, work and socialize. I have always said that I feel living in London is like a continuous working holiday. Every day I see something I’ve never saw before, meet someone I didn’t know before or do something I never did before. Whichever place in London allows me to experience something I haven’t done before, is my favourite place in London.