Eleni's New York: Eat Desserts First is its Motto
As a maker of delicious, creatively designed sugar cookies, Eleni's New York has a fitting motto: "Eat Dessert First." Similarly, it should come as no surprise that the New York-based shop is a nominee for a Luxist Readers' Choice Award in the best cookie category.
Eleni's founder and name sake, Eleni Gianopulos, came by her baking acumen naturally. During her childhood in 1970s Northern California, Eleni's mother was known for treating the neighborhood kids to batches of home-baked oatmeal cookies. After switching coasts and trying her hand at the cookie-cutter corporate world, Eleni found herself with a craving for a more creative career. In the kitchen of her Manhattan apartment, she fine-tuned her mom's recipe and began selling the fruits of her labor directly from home. Just like the kids in her hometown, the "kids" in New York ate up the oatmeal treats and clamored for more; Eleni complied by opening up shop at the Chelsea bakery and dabbling in the creations that since have earned her the title of "cookie couturier."
Gallery: More from Eleni's New York
From the beginning, this homegrown company has offered an array of quirky but beautiful, delicious iced sugar cookies celebrating a variety of whimsical themes – from spring flowers to high-heeled shoes to Halloween ghouls. Eleni's cupcakes, brownies, and classic cookies do tradition one better, raising the bar for basic desserts. Nicknamed "conversation cookies", the treats are baked and frosted in the shapes of everything from bees to bikini-clad women. Eleni's makes fresh dough every day, then chills it for several hours. After that, it's sheeted, hand-punched with custom-made cookie cutters, re-refrigerated, then baked and iced.
"We see ourselves as Willy Wonka for the gourmet set – whimsy and sophistication rolled up into one sweet package," says Gianopulos "Our sugar cookies can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion – they put the icing on any gathering, from candlelit soirees to children's birthday parties."
Early in its young history, Eleni's New York gained attention from the likes of CNN, CNBC and even Martha Stewart by introducing a special line of cookies with Oscar award nominees' faces on them. Years later, Eleni's capitalized on Obama fever during the 2008 presidential election by creating Obama cookies; election day was the highest grossing day in the shop's history.
Even though Eleni's
"I'm committed to maintaining our hands-on approach, no matter how much the company grows," said Eleni. "When people buy cookies they also buy a little slice of childhood, the memory of standing by Mom's side to lick the mixing bowl or of sneaking into the kitchen to raid the cookie jar. It's important to me to preserve that tradition of home-baked goodness – while adding the elegance and personality my customers demand."
Eleni continues to cater to sweet teeth young and old in the Chelsea Market and in her new retail location on Madison Avenue, also in New York. She distributes her goodies through such retailers as Neiman Marcus,
For those who live far from Eleni's, never fear – the cookies are available online. Popular gift packages include "Birthday Fashionista," with shoe-shaped and cake-shaped cookies frosted in red and white, plus a cupcake topped with a heart ($25), and "Tennis Anyone?" which sports cookies cut and frosted to look like tennis balls, racquets, shoes and shorts ($25). Eleni's kicker: "With these cookies, you will always have a perfect serve."
Vote for the company you believe makes the best cookies. Readers' Choice Winners will be announced on March 1st.