Constructing cookie creations

Interior design skills a boon for baking business

She used to design the interiors of skyscrapers; now she designs iced ginger cookies with personalized messages on them.

It’s not as big a stretch as it seems.

Annex resident Beverly Horii’s customized message cookies, which she calls “mookies”, come in architecturally interesting and even 3-D shapes — and some are wholly original as she also fashions her own cookie cutters.

The owner of the recently launched Jinja Ninja basically constructs a cookie as she would a building or room interior.

“I use dough like modeling making supplies,” Horii says.

After 22 years practising architecture and interior design and rising to the senior ranks of the biggest firms in the city, Horii says she needed a change.

“I got disenchanted with the 80-hour week,” she says. “The profession itself is fairly abusive.”

Primarily in sales Horii says she got fed up with the politics of business development and found she wasn’t doing what she loved anymore: designing.

“I (had) become a true business woman,” she says. “That’s not what I signed up to do.”

The move to cookies was serendipity though it came out of her life-long love for baking and design.

One day she went to a friend’s party and brought a cookie she had made that spelled out her friend’s name.

Everyone loved it, she says. Horii learned, rather by fluke, to place the individual letters so close on the cookie sheet that they melted into one another and came out of the oven as one big cookie.

“It was a huge hit.”

Not surprisingly, many of Horii’s clients are in the design world. The Design Exchange, which also sells her creations in their downtown office, had her make big cookies representing certain designers for Toronto Fashion Week this year.

“We’re all becoming a society of design-conscious people,” she says.

Some of Horii’s more inventive designs include ninja bunny cookies — her entire family has a red belt in Ninjitsu — and a mini version of the Barcelona Pavilion she made using flower and snowflake cookie cutters.

Design for Horii is about invention and reinterpreting tradition, so much so her goal for the Christmas season is to build a modernist version of the traditional gingerbread house.

“The sky’s the limit to what I can create,” she says.

At the moment she’s seeing what she can do with Rice Krispie squares, and she’s also mulling over how she can make a cake in the shape of a big gold ball for an upcoming golf tournament. A balloon just may be involved in the early stages, she says.

“I’m probably breaking new ground here in the cookie world.”

Horii works out of a kitchen on Dupont Road and Dovercourt Avenue and does orders via email and phone call. Her cookies have recently been picked up by Pusateri’s on Avenue Road.

“I get a lot of gratification from making people happy,” she says.

“It’s not like that in architecture.”

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: May 5 2010 12:13 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto