Maryann & John
Cookies, Past and Present
by Maryann & John Mazzaferro, Rome, NY
I enjoy cooking but there’s just something about baking. My mother always had cookies in the kitchen. I remember coming home from school and, before I went to do my homework, there would be cookies for me. They were there for the family. I have a vision of my mom standing by the oven, mixing up those soft, chewy cookies with her wooden spoon, the one I have now in my kitchen.
When I retired, I started devoting more time to baking, using my mother’s cookie recipe. My husband John was in politics and I would go with him on the things he did here in Rome and give out cookies. I got a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction from seeing joy in other people through something that I was doing.
Turning a Family Recipe into a Business
I had people constantly saying to me, “You bake such a wonderful cookie. Why don’t you start up a business of your own?” And I thought, “Can I really do this?” But the more I baked, the more I gained confidence — and I received such positive remarks on what a good product I had.
I don’t know of another local business that brings fresh cookies right to someone’s door. It’s unique and I really pride myself on that. And it gives me tremendous contact with the community, a chance to meet a lot of different people. I think about that every time I take a batch of cookies out of the oven. Baking is a way to develop friendship, and I’ve made so many friends through it.
Baking is a way to develop friendship, and I’ve made so many friends through it.
Comfort in the Kitchen
I run my business right out of my kitchen. It’s amazing when I stop to think about the thousands of cookies that I’ve made in my oven. I work every day of the week, even on weekends: Maryann’s kitchen rarely closes.
Believe it or not I’ve come up with about 34 different types of cookies, but it always comes back to the All-American favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. It’s the original cookie that I remember from when I was a little girl, my mother’s recipe. It’s wonderful to do this in honor of my mother; that’s very special to me.
To me, the kitchen represents a place where family can come together for comfort and joy. It’s the place you can find something that you like to do, that you can do from your heart. With my baking, being in the kitchen is something that I find very comforting. What I do in there, it’s not work.
Being in the kitchen is something that I find very comforting. What I do in there, it’s not work.
To me, the kitchen represents a place where family can come together for comfort and joy.
Baking to Build Community
When you live in a small community like Rome you really get to know the people very, very well. I’d love to take the small town feel and spread it across the country. We live in such a rushed society where people are always on the go, even me — I move pretty fast. But to be able to take the time and really get to know people is wonderful because everyone has something to offer.
When I bake a tray of cookies, I think about who I’m baking it for; it’s just not anyone. These are all people. And I want it to be special for them.
It’s comforting to be able to bake for other people. I love it when I see other people getting joy out of eating my cookies. It’s such a good feeling to extend love and do it through the All-American cookie.
Really, it’s an honor to me, to be able to take a family recipe and carry it on in the tradition of friendship, love and cookies.