Chips!—I always loved chocolate chips as a child and was ecstatic when my mother came home from our local bakery with cookies full of them. As a cook, my mother was fantastic, but she lacked the precision needed to be a baker—that’s when I decided to take up the art of baking on my own and created my first cookie at the age of eight. I wanted to learn all I could about baking and enthusiastically enrolled in a home economics class—I will never forget my teacher reprimanding me for eating all of the chocolate chips before baking a batch of cookies.
One day, during my high school years, my mother’s best friend Evelyn brought over her special cookies—they were good, but I knew they could be so much better. I began experimenting with the recipe (and thoroughly enjoyed eating all of my creations)—removing the raisins, adding different types of nuts, replacing the butter with vegetable oil, changing the chocolate chips from milk to semi-sweet—this new found power of an adolescent appetite was going to help me create the world’s most amazing chocolate chip cookie.
Throughout the years I never tired of making, eating and experimenting with my recipe and eventually began adding different liqueurs into the mix. One day, after over two years of working with the varied ingredients, I struck gold and created the perfect cookie. I was thrilled and couldn't wait for my family and friends to try my new creation. Around that time my mother took ill and had to be hospitalized. As a treat to the nurses who took care of her, I baked my special cookies and brought them in for them. One night, the nurses asked what these “delicious cookies” were called, so I asked my mom for her input. She thought about it for a moment and said “Monchips,” and as they say, that is that.
My mom passed away shortly thereafter and my love of baking passed with her. Years later, while visiting my best friend Allison and her husband David, I was asked to bake Monchips for his upcoming birthday party—so I bucked up, baked a batch, and brought them to the event. Everyone loved Monchips and I was dared by all to “try and sell these tasty treats.” I decided to take the challenge and subsequently set up a meeting with the head of the now defunct bakery department at Bloomingdales on 59th Street hoping for the best.
I quickly designed a logo, improvised the packaging and met with Albert, the head of the bakery department. To my surprise, he ordered one hundred and fifty pounds for the upcoming Thanksgiving rush. “Albert,” I said, “I bake five pounds in three hours in my tiny New York City kitchen,” to which he replied, "well, I guess you better find yourself a baker.” After two weeks of extensive searching, I finally found a baker in Hackensack, New Jersey to take on the job. Every night after my day job as an assistant talent agent in New York City I hurried out to Hackensack to teach the baker how to make Monchips, and eventually assisted him by cutting, packaging and delivering them to Bloomingdales.
Marketing Monchips was easy and a lot of fun. At the talent agency we represented many wonderful actors and actresses, so I had Monchip t-shirts made up for them. I then had the men pass out samples of Monchips in the women’s departments and the women pass out samples in the men’s departments—the store sold out the entire inventory of Monchips within a couple of hours on our opening day.
Monchips were carried by Bloomingdales, Balducci’s and Grace’s Marketplace and featured in New York Magazine’s Christmas Issue “The Best of New York.” Eventually, I couldn't keep up the pace of working in the city during the day and traveling to Hackensack to work in the bakery every night—I had to cut back somewhere and it was Monchips that got the axe. For years, Bloomingdales called to request Monchips as their customers continued to ask for them. My family, friends and clients at the talent agency also wanted more Monchips, so, after two decades absent of Monchips, I decided to bring them back. I love making Monchips, everyone loves to eat them, and what better way to honor the memory of my mother than to bake again and let the chips fall where they may.