COCOA & CO
This summer at Chocol'art I had the the best brownies I have ever tried which come from Cocoa & Co in Beirut. Hala Audi Beydoun, owner of Cocoa and Co. creates all her uniquely designed cakes, cookies and funky treats herself. Her hand-decorated, individually baked cakes with a taste of home remind her customers of their own childhood.
Tell us how you started Hala
It all started with my daughters’ birthdays in our garden in the mountains. I come from a family of food lovers. I used to help my mom in her kitchen, tasting and adding flavours to traditional dishes, and trying out new combinations for desserts. When I got married and had children, I wanted to make something special for their birthdays and did not find what I wanted in the market, so I started baking my own delicacies from my tiny kitchen in Bolonia.
I used to throw huge, garden parties for them where I’d prepare everything from scratch; food, decoration, gifts, games…etc They were carnival parties and my friends appreciated and loved every single detail. They started ordering some yummies from me, and that is how Cocoa & Co. started.
Greatest inspirations or influences?
- My travels. My love of life, colors and food.
- My husband’s art (he’s an incredible painter) my daughter’s innocence and my mother’s tips…
What makes Cocoa & Co so different?
We only use the best, freshest ingredients. We don’t buy ready mixes. We make everything from scratch and we never put additives or artificial flavorings. We value taste as much as design and that make a great combo. We are always up-to-date on world trends and translate them into beautiful edible art pieces.
Our brownies are our claim to fame! They are so rich and gooey and yummy all at once.
Most popular items?
I love my ‘Matrioshka’ cake design. The Hands of Fatima cookies are also some of my favourites. I also adore the simple ‘smiley face’ cookie which is the simplest one but always brings out a smile in me.
Most interesting design you have come up with for a cake ?
We did a wedding cake for a famous British writer who was marrying a Lebanese.It was an East-meets-West cake with designs from both cultures and traditional Arab bride and groom on top (Antar and Abla). I also love our whimsical cupcakes that seem to pop out of a fairy tale.
What would be a dream project for you?
I have dreams that I am turning into plans! I hope to expand Cocoa & Co. to reach several select cities around the world. I am also working on a new line where everyone with special food needs can enjoy our Yummies. When I was younger I used to dream of going to the Oscars! Now I dream of catering to the winners!
Favorite websites, blogs?
Best part about being in Ashrafieh neighborhood?
Our boutique café is situated in an authentic, quiet street with beautiful traditional Lebanese houses and a friendly atmosphere. I am not a fan of big spaces or malls so the ‘cache’ of our street works great for me.
Anything else you'd like to share with our audience?
Never stop creating! Don't copy, innovate. Evolve. And definitely LOVE what you do or do something else that you love!