I’m so excited to share our first Featured Baker of 2023! Hailing from New Iberia, Louisiana, Tammy DeRouen, is the owner of Cook E Art and More and she LOVES every cookie she has the privilege to make. With a heart full of gratitude and a sweet southern accent, it has been a joy to get to know Tammy and share her story with you. Tammy never set out to start a cookie business, but life works in mysterious ways! Read on to learn how it happened, what motivates her every day, see her stunning cookie painting skills and get a sneak peek for what she has in store for the future! Hint: Tammy has big plans to pay her gratitude forward.
Tammy married Stephen, who she met during their high school years and still considers him her best friend. Their family is very close, so when Stephen’s mom, Eileen, was diagnosed with ALS, Tammy immediately knew she wanted to care for her full-time. She left her 28-year career in the dental industry and never looked back. She spent the next 3 years with her, making memories and soaking up all of Eileen’s wisdom and character. She passed away in 2017 and 6 weeks later, Eileen’s husband passed; then they lost Eileen’s mother. Needless to say, it was a rough year for their closeknit family. But before Eileen passed, during one of their conversations, Tammy told Eileen, “I’m going to learn to paint portraits.” Tammy shared, “Little did I know, they’ be on cookies.”
Tammy struggled with navigating how best to move forward after losing so many important people in her life. But she thought maybe she could start baking cupcakes or something else small, since she didn’t have space for anything too big. She made a trip to their local bakery supply store where she saw a sign, “Ask us about our cookie classes.” She thought, “huh, cookies are small….” Convinced she could whip up cookies, she gave it a try! And here are her first cookies she ever decorated. She laughs at these now, but really, they aren’t bad for the first time!
It was then that Tammy realized, she needed to take a class. These are the cookies she made in the class. What a difference that made!
Tammy then made this set of Margi Gras cookies on her own, posted a picture on facebook and that is when friends started calling!
After much begging and convincing, Tammy’s friend talked her into making cookies for the cheerleading team. Let’s just say, now Tammy was stung with the cookie decorating bee!
Cook E Art And More Is Born
Tammy launched her business in 2019 with inspiration from the two most important ladies in her life. Eileen, and Earleen, her own mother. This is where the “E” comes into her business name, as a nod to these special ladies. The cursive letter E in her logo is taken from Earleen’s signature. The feather in her logo has a very special meaning behind it. Before Eileen passed, she told Tammy, “I’m going to send you feathers,” as her sign that she will always be with her. And wouldn’t you know, Tammy has found beautiful feathers in the most random of places and during special times ever since Eileen’s passing. She collects them all and says that “Cookies saved me. They are my grief therapy.” Which is why she loves that her family is intertwined in her business and everything she does.
Remember how Tammy told Eileen that someday she would paint portraits? Well Tammy has made more than good on her promise. She always had a passion for drawing since a young age; even hoping to draw for Disney. The classes and supplies were out of reach as a child, but the passion never left. So when Tammy started decorating cookies, she thought, “Let me try doing this on cookies.” Using a photo for inspiration, Tammy first sketches her portraits with edible marker. Then, she uses colored food gel, mixed with extract to paint stunning portraits on her cookies. Tammy shared, “If I could paint every cookie, every single set, I would be a happy camper.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t have time to use this technique on all her cookies.
She does have a customer who could not bear to eat their hand painted cookie and opted to shellac it and display in her home! Check out some of my favorite hand painted cookies created by Tammy.
The Cookie Cottage
Last spring, when Stephen surprised Tammy with a bathroom remodel, she knew she had to relocate her baking and decorating. In her words, “I knew drywall couldn’t be my main ingredient.” So Earleen offered Tammy the rental property she owned, was vacant and was right next door to her. When the remodel was over, her mom was adamant that she use that property as her cookie hub, which Tammy adores and affectionately calls, the cookie cottage. And when I say she adores it, I mean she LOVES it. It’s her happy place where she can focus and be creative.
Tammy also has big plans for the cookie cottage! She’s working towards hosting cookie decorating classes, parties and maybe even a supply shop! She hopes to be able to hire assistants in the future so she can spend more time on the complex designs and hand painting.
Cook E Art and More Today
Today, Tammy makes 3-4 dozen custom cookies per week for her customers, using her grandmother’s recipe. It took a year for her to perfect the recipe to keep the cookies from spreading since the butter used back then was different than today. Quality is more important to Tammy than quantity as she wants her cookies to not only look good but taste just as good. And she dedicates time each week to be with her mom, her best friend and working towards those long-term goals for the cookie cottage.
And if you haven’t already fallen in love with Tammy, get ready. Tammy hopes to be able to pass along the cookie cottage to a special, deserving young man or woman someday. She knows her grown son, Stephen II, will not want the cookie cottage, he’s already successful with his own work. And she is so grateful for, “how God has blessed us,” that she hopes to pay it forward. When she’s ready to retire, she hopes to mentor someone who has the passion and drive to continue this legacy. One that was rooted and based in so much love, she would love to see Cook E Art and More flourish.
Words Of Wisdom
Tammy has great advice for current and aspiring bakers and decorators. First, “Just be you. Don’t worry about being perfect, we are our own worst critics, and your customer is not going to see what you see.” Also, “Don’t worry about what other cookiers are doing. Be different; find your own style.” She is also passionate about giving other cookiers credit when she draws inspiration from their work. And her secret weapon against cookie spreading? Vented or perforated silicone baking mats! The added airflow reduces spreading and was key to perfecting her grandmother’s recipe.
What motivates Tammy more than anything is, “to see the people’s joy”, from her work. She shared, “I only have one regret and it’s that I didn’t discover this sooner.”
It was a privilege to share Tammy’s work as a Featured Baker. Her art brings so much joy to others and her huge heart, passion and determination to make a difference in the lives of others is truly inspiring. Thank you, Tammy for sharing your story with us as well as your advice to help others.
I hope you enjoy this gallery featuring more of the work from Cook E Art and More. I also highly encourage you to check out her socials to see even more of her art or to connect with Tammy!
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