Kansas City is known for lots of things: barbecue, boulevards, professional sports teams and fountains. But do you know that the Greater Kansas City region is a Cookier community?
Almost 100 bakers are part of this delectable and delicious group – called KC Cookiers – who specialize in baking and decorating sugar cookies. According to its founder, Overland Park resident Nancy Westfall, this is a unique group in the nation.
These women have written books, teach, lead cookie conferences, and appear on food and cooking channels. Westfall said the group isn’t for those who just dabble in the world of cookies; it’s geared to those who are in the cookie business – whether operating out of their home or elsewhere.
Westfall started the group several years ago after having dinner with several other cookie devotees.
“When I left the dinner, I met so many other cookiers,” Westfall said. “I thought we needed a way to communicate and stay in touch, so I started the KC Cookier Facebook group. Now so many of us have become great friends.”
The group tries to meet quarterly, often at Westfall’s home, to exchange ideas, recipes and designs.
“We have a big party at my house and then we go live on my Facebook page and we provide a tutorial,” Westfall said. “Anyone around the globe can join us. Most Cookiers don’t get much sleep,” she said with a laugh.
Westfall started cookie decorating about three years ago learning her craft mostly from YouTube videos and scouring the Internet. Eventually she got into making her own stencils for cookies. Now she concentrates on teaching others how to make stencils and decorate through her web site, thecolorfulcookieclub.com, rather than baking herself.
The KC Cookiers continues to grow and diversify. Westfall said the talent within the group is amazing – and delicious.
“We have so many talented cookiers here in Kansas City,” Westfall said, adding that some teach at CookieCon, a large convention.
“We have several who teach cookie-decorating lessons in town. We have one who has been on Food Network Christmas Cookie Decorating Challenge. Two of us teach online to people around the world and offer memberships while others have their own brick and mortar shops.”
Sharing knowledge in a friendly way is the key to the KC Cookiers group.
“It’s community over competition,” said Cami Sam Romani, who is a member and owns Cami’s Cake Company in Council Grove, Kan., a little over an hour outside of the metro.
Romani started baking for friends and family. Others saw her delicious treats and began ordering so she went into business.
“I have always been an artist – this was a different way to make money with art. It is a constant stream of income that doesn’t always happen when you are in art,” Romani said. “It’s seeing things that aren’t necessarily cookies and translating them to edible art.”
Romani admits she doesn’t love to bake, “I love decorating, so baking is a necessary evil for me.”
Cameo Robinson, an Olathe Cookie artist, started her business in 2015 and joined KC Cookiers two years ago. She got into the cookie business as a hobby to help relieve her post-partum depression, and it worked.
“I love being able to make people smile and have a yummy treat,” Robinson said.
After having coffee with a friend, Robinson was invited to join the group through Facebook. Robinson said the group is very supportive of its members and has been an exceptionally positive experience for her.
“I love our cookier community and have made some amazing life long friends through it,” Robinson said.
Professional cookie artist and KC Cookier member Gina Canino said she loves the design and fine detailing elements of making cookies.
“I love to sit down with pen and paper and sketch out ideas for a new order,” said Canino, founder of The Sugared Shamrock. “There is much satisfaction and joy in seeing a set come together, often in a different direction than I began.”
Romani isn’t surprised that this unique group sprung up in the heartland.
“Kansas City is such a beautiful, creative city and it doesn’t shock me at all that there’s an abundance of sugar artists in the city and surrounding communities,” Romani said.