By: Emma Zeller
Cultural representation is vital to every community. It offers to broaden our perspectives through the sharing of past experiences, learning about different ethnicities, and of course, food. At Cookies, Cakes, and Jews, they market countless remarkable Jewish dishes to the Jenks community.
Prior to opening Cookies, Cakes, and Jews, co-owner Jimmy Darnell worked in healthcare.
“I was a respiratory therapist,” explained Darnell, “We did ventilator checks and intubated people during COVID… So this is much easier.”
In 2021–after dealing with the stress of working on the front lines of the pandemic–Jimmy Darnell and David Chapman set their sights on new goals. They began baking.
Darnell and Chapman made their products for events and markets, interspersing more traditional Jewish recipes onto tables of cookies and cakes. They worked through limitations of not being able to keep foods chilled during the outdoor events, and they began searching for the right name for their new business.
“We were doing Farmers’ Market events and didn’t really have an official name, so we were throwing ideas around. We’d make cookies and frosted cakes to take to the markets, and we’d have some Jewish foods, like piroshki,” Darnell explained, “So, we were joking around and said, ‘Cookies, Cakes, and Jews– why not?’”
And so, Cookies, Cakes, and Jews opened the first week of September, 2021. Undoubtedly, the name of the bakery caused chatter among customers.
“We never hear anything bad about (our business name),” said Darnell, “That was one of the biggest things the Jewish Federation warned us about when we first opened- that there would be a lot of anti-Semitism, but no one’s said anything negative.”
He went on to explain that Tulsa’s Jewish Federation is an organization that encompasses the Zarrow Pointe nursing home for the Jewish community, as well as the Charles Schusterman Community Center and Museum. Schusterman was a prominent Jewish businessman and philanthropist in Tulsa whose foundation has benefited our area through multiple outreach missions, from education to criminal justice, to the Jewish community.
Cookies, Cakes, and Jews often vend for Jewish Federation events, such as outings at the Circle Cinema and the Temple of Israel.
“We get a lot of people from Tulsa, Norman, and way out there,” said Darnell, “A lot of people come for the Knish, which is like mashed potatoes in a bread bowl with cheeses and vegetables- it’s a hugely popular Jewish dish and we always make them custom ordered.”
The bakery also gains customers for its Black-and-Whites, which are Jewish cookies, made traditionally with a buttermilk cake base. However, the estimated best-sellers are undoubtedly the piroshki. Piroshki is a pastry-like dessert dish, consisting of dough folded with different options for the filling. From the bakery, I can personally recommend the caramel apple and strawberry.
“We probably sell six-hundred a week, just of those,” said Darnell.
The piroshki are closely followed by the Black-and-Whites, oatmeal cream pie cookies, and cannolis. Each morning, they go to work bright and early to undertake the baking of kolaches, muffins, bagels, piroshkis, and one of my personal favorites- baklava. The baklava at Cookies, Cakes, and Jews is an absolute delicacy.
A staple dish for Cookies, Cakes, and Jews is their bagel sandwiches. They offer different types of sandwich fillings in whatever bagel you choose, all made at the bakery.
A rare characteristic of the bakery is that their food is kosher… sort of. So, the term ‘kosher’ refers to Jewish dietary restrictions, such as how meat and dairy products cannot be in the same dish.
“So, we are not one hundred percent ‘Kosher Certified’, because you actually have to have a rabbi in here to do that,” Darnell clarified, “But, all of our ingredients are kosher certified. We also have vegan cheeses, in case you want to have meat as well.”
Not only is all the bakery’s food kosher, they also use vegan butter for everything. Despite presumptions, the vegan butter at Cookies, Cakes, and Jews is often praised for its taste by customers, unaware that the butter was not made from animal products.
“We use vegan butter for everything,” Darnell said, “Which is hilarious, because one of our Yelp! reviews were like, ‘This place is the best! They use real butter and you can taste it!’ and I was like ‘Hmm…’”
One of the amazing things is the variety of products available, and seeing customers’ reactions to the products. The staff agreed that one of their favorite parts of working at the bakery was interacting with people. Many customers from out-of-town stop by to enjoy food from their own culture, or to experience something new while traveling.
“It’s always nice for us to meet other people that are Jewish from different communities,” Darnell commented, “But for me, it’s the baking.”
His talent for baking has paid off greatly. Although the bakery opened barely four months before 2022, Cookies, Cakes, and Jews was awarded the 2021 “Restaurant of the Year” award by Jenks Chamber of Commerce.
Not only is this establishment a great addition to the Jenks area, the bakery is also giving back to its community through food donations.
“We take bagels to the schools,” stated Darnell, “We’ve donated over two thousand bagels to local schools and fire departments.”
Cookies, Cakes, and Jews does more than give Jenks authentic Jewish baked goods, they have become an upstanding business that contributes flavor to our Jenks community, all while giving back to their town through their food and culture.
Facebook: Cookies, Cakes, and Jews
Address: 610 W Main St Unit B, Jenks, OK 74037