Cookie company is sweet success for teenager
They say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette; and the same might be said for baking cookies.
Learning to bake, Ahmani Peets spent months perfecting the art of cracking an egg.
On the autism spectrum, the 16-year-old has challenges with dexterity.
“A typical person might have lost a little patience; we just lost eggs, which was not a big deal,” said Ahmani's father Anthony Peets.
However, Ahmani eventually conquered the egg, and is now a cookie-baking pro. Two weeks ago he launched his own business Ahmani's Cookie Company from his family's home in Smith's. For a fee, he will deliver a batch of cookies still warm from the oven, or the cookie dough, if you prefer to make them in your own time.
“I learnt how to bake because I have been watching my father bake, listening to instructions and looking at different recipes,” the Bermuda Institute student said.
He also took cooking lessons in school.
His father used to give him a lot of direction in the kitchen, but now Ahmani can cook without supervision. In addition, a few months ago he got his motorcycle driver's licence so he can deliver the goods also.
“On diagnosis day (when Ahmani was a toddler), they told us all sorts of things would not happen,” Mr Peets said. “It is wonderful to watch this guy work.”
Ahmani has been baking since he was 12. At first he just made cookies for school bake sales. Then after long talks with his father about his career aspirations, he decided to start his own baking company out of his family's Smith's home.
“My daddy came up with name Ahmani's Cookie Company, because it is my business,” Ahmani said. “I am responsible for making it work. My daddy says when you grow up you have to know how to survive. Everyone has to eat, and it is important to do things you enjoy when you work.
“I had a discussion with my dad. We had to go to the health department and get an application for a home bakery licence. We had to make sure the water was healthy. We had to get a fire extinguisher, have the ingredients in one place in the cabinet, have an apron, gloves, headgear and have all the tools that are used for cooking.”
They set up social media sites for Ahmani's Cookie Company on Facebook and Instagram and were flooded with interest, locally and abroad.
“He's had more than 40 deliveries since we set up,” Mr Peets said.
Three days in, they got an invitation from a restaurant in the United States wanting to sell Ahmani's products.
Mr Peets isn't sure yet how they will manage the logistics of that, but he has a few ideas.
“My sister is a US citizen,” he said. “There are some ways we can work it out. We don't mind sharing with family what it is we do and the way we do that. That is one possibility. My personal motto in life is to find a way. All things are possible. With Ahmani, we have found different ways to do that. This restaurant will have his cookies and they will say ‘Ahmani's' on them.”
Right away though they encountered Bermuda's new sugar tax.
“Right now he is charging a dollar a cookie,” Mr Peets said. “He has it broken down to a single chocolate chip. Right now, because of what is happening in Bermuda, we are seeing on a biweekly basis prices are starting to have adjustments. The sugar tax is here, but some of the items impacted are not sugar, such as butter. The price was $7.49 for four sticks of butter, now it is $8.59 for the same product.”
Ahmani and his father often speak to local children about overcoming obstacles.
“This is just one part of the journey of his life and he's good at it,” Mr Peets said. “For that I celebrate.”
Mr Peets hopes to one day organise a children's festival bringing together children in the community who make food to sell.
“It would be to help promote them,” he said.
• For more information see Ahmani's Cookie Company on Facebook and Instagram, call 505-9147 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.