Meet Ashley and Israel, the dynamic duo behind Phat Ash Bakes! This power couple left behind the hustle and bustle of New Jersey to make their cookie dreams a reality in Florida. Combining Ashley’s passion for baking with Israel’s career in management, they have created an incredible community centered around their mouth-watering cookies.
Starting with Ashley’s famous oatmeal raisin cookie, The OG, their business has grown to become a beloved local favorite. Not only do they get to indulge in their love of baking every day, but they also give back to the community through monthly donations.
Recently, Orlando’s very own Phat Ash Bakes & Foxtail Coffee launched their newest collaboration: Cookie Phactory – a curated collection of your favorite cookie flavors at the Foxtail Coffee location at 3122 E Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803.
Read on to discover how their passion for baking has turned into a thriving business.
Tasty Chomps Q and A with Phat Ash Bakes Owners Ashley and Israel
TastyChomps: How did you come up with the idea and inspiration to start Phat Ash?
The combination of Ashley’s love of cooking, and hard-knocks-necessity. Ashley was working two jobs; at Lululemon in Winter Park and Winter Park Fish Co. while Israel was starting a new career with Atrium Management. Baking was Ashley’s outlet. We remember one time having to make the choice of treating ourselves to pizza for dinner, or buying butter to test bake. I’m sure you can figure out which choice won! We’ve had the opportunity to create an incredible community with Phat Ash Bakes, that allows us to bake cookies everyday (what a dream!) and give back to the community through our monthly donations. Double win for us!
How long have you been baking cookies and what motivated you to turn it into a business?
We’ve been baking cookies since the end of 2019. Ashley obsessed over creating a recipe for her first cookie – The OG, an oatmeal raisin cookie loaded with chocolate chips, shredded coconut, macadamia nuts and maldon salt. After testing 3,485,798 (totally exaggerating) test batches, her friends & co-workers encouraged her to have a bake sale. Once I realized that I was making more money than my 9 to 5pm, we began to take things seriously. We transitioned from a Cottage Food License to a fully licensed and insured kitchen.
What makes your cookies unique and stand out from others in the market?
Our cookies are unique because they’re big, fat, and full of our favorite snacks! Pop tarts, Oreos, M&M’s … you name it, we’ve probably tried to use it! But aside from unique flavors, we are proud to be able to give back to our community; one of the pillars of Phat Ash Bakes. We choose a different charity each month to partner with by donating $1 per sale of one of our Phat Chocolate Chip cookies. Local charities we have worked with are The Zebra Coalition, SALT, NextStep Orlando, Stand Up Survivor and The Primrose Center.
How do you source your ingredients and ensure their quality for your cookies?
We source our junk food wherever and whenever we can. A lot of our mix-ins are seasonal so we are always looking out for the newest flavor drops everywhere we go!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Imposter Syndrome is a real thing! Ashley has definitely had her moments of doubt – “what am I doing here? … am I really a baker? … why would people want what I am making?” But that is why we are such a dynamic and amazing team; Israel has always stepped up in those moments to love, encourage and support. Our entire relationship is rooted in love and support, and so even when things are challenging we are definitely there to lift each other up & overcome.
How do you decide on your cookie flavors and variations, and how do you keep them fresh and interesting for your customers?
We started with 5 flavors on the menu, and have made over 200 flavors at this point! Since we change the menu weekly, aside from our Phat Chocolate Chip, we’ve been able to keep it fresh. Ashley and her team of amazing bakers come up with cookie flavors by browsing the supermarket aisles & eating different desserts. It sounds silly, but we can find inspiration in so many places. We have also definitely gotten some great ideas from guests at our Bake Nights! A 90 minute experience at our Speakeasy Bakery where star bakers can come to whip up some wild cookie creations! We provide the dough, a large variety of mix-ins, fillings & glazes and then they take it from there.
Can you share some of your proudest moments or achievements on this journey thus far? What can be done with a delicious cookie, other than eat it?
Well, with our chocolate chip cookie we were able to collect over 500 pairs of shoes for SALT Outreach – a community resource center helping those experiencing homelessness in Orlando & Central Florida. We’ve also recently partnered up with Foxtail Coffee Company to introduce our cookies to coffee lovers around Florida and beyond. They are expanding quickly and we are proud that our cookie company has made so much noise that they wanted to offer our flavors to their customers. Keep your eyes out for The Cookie Phactory by Phat Ash Bakes at Foxtail Coffee East Colonial.
From a culinary standpoint, one of Ashley’s proudest moments has been creating our dough recipes from scratch. Baking is science! And let us tell you, there were LOTS of experiments! And some … not so great. But after countless test batches, meltdowns, & recipe revisions we landed on the recipes that create cookies that WE love – soft, thick, and packed with flavor.
One of her other proudest moments has probably been that esteemed Pastry Chef, Stuart Whitfield, is one of our OG supporters. I remember he ordered cookies back when we were running this out of our apartment. After handing him his cookies and closing the door, a friend at our house asked her if I knew who he was. When she told me, I didn’t even know what to do with myself! It’s been 3 years, and I will forever be honored every single time I see him at one of our events. There really aren’t words to describe how it feels to have a chef with such culinary experience support you. Sorry Stuart, we had to put you on blast with that one!!! lol!
What are your plans for the future of your cookie enterprise?
We don’t know what the future holds. The Universe will provide us with whatever we are supposed to be doing, whenever things are supposed to happen. One thing we know is that we have to always enjoy what we are doing and have fun. Life is too short!
What are your most popular cookie flavors right now?
Ube N’ Cream; an ube and cookies & cream combo. Campfire Cookie Butter; inspired by cookie butter-s’mores. and Miss Betty Lee; lemon creme & raspberry
What are some upcoming plans for the menu?
As always we’re going to be keeping it fresh and full of surprises!
Thank you Ashley and Israel of Phat Ash Bakes for speaking with us at Tasty Chomps!!
For more info, visit: phatashbakes.com
Photos by Tiffany Nguyen @bytiffanynguyen