Baking Adventures with SugarTats
By Alyssa Clark in collaboration with Justin Charboneau
While most of T4A’s focus is on adventures outside, we were lucky enough to stumble upon an adventure begun right in the kitchen. If you’ve wondered what it takes to be a professional cookie decorator, Justin Charboneau, husband to pro-runner Brittany Charboneau, has the answers. What began as a quick look through Pinterest, turned into a passion-driven adventure for Justin with the creation of his custom sugar cookie company SugarTats. We were fortunate to get the chance to chat with Justin about chasing passions, rookie cookies and on whether cookies really do make runners faster.
How did your cookie business begin?
SugarTats started on accident. In November 2019 my wife Brittany and I were throwing a space-themed dinner for friends and we were trying to brainstorm something to make for dessert. I googled “space-themed desserts” and Pinterest led me to a picture of sugar cookies that were gingerbread man-shaped but decorated like astronauts. My first thought was, “I bet I could do that!” So I then proceeded to google how to make sugar cookies and went to the store and bought all of the ingredients. The cookies tasted good and the decorations weren’t terrible for a first attempt. I had so much fun making them that I wanted to try again. I started making cookies every weekend and taking them into work and before long, people started asking if they could order some. As orders started rolling in, I knew I was doing something that people enjoyed and 5 months after my first set of cookies I launched SugarTats Cookie Co.
Have you always been a baker?
Not at all! I remember my grandmother used to make cookies but I mostly remember eating them, so I don’t think I ever helped her bake them. My first real experience baking was with that first set of cookies!
How did you develop #rookiecookies?
The Rookie Cookies were Britt’s idea while we were brainstorming different ways that I can set myself apart as a Cookier. There were a couple times I had extra cookies from an order and Britt wanted to try decorating. The results were hilarious! She came up with the idea to include her cookies as bonus cookies of each design in every order. For example, if an order has 3 different cookie designs, Britt will try to recreate each one and the customer will get 3 rookie cookies in addition to their normal order. Since she is a pro athlete it was fitting to call them the “Rookie Cookies - Amateur Cookies by a Pro Athlete”.
Where did the name SugarTats come from?
I spent the first few months of making cookies trying to decide what my business could be called. I was unique in the fact that I was a male cookie decorator which is fairly uncommon, and I wanted my business name to be a good fit with my personality. One of our friends is very clever and funny so we asked for his help. He began sending over long lists of super random names that were never that great of suggestions in my opinion, but on one of the lists about halfway down was “SugarTats” and we all thought it was a funny play on words. I actually fought it for a while due to the innuendo but the more people I asked their opinion, the more I began to like it and it stuck!
Is there a secret recipe you use to make the cookies?
I do keep my sugar cookie recipe a secret because I take pride in not only the decorations of my cookies, but also the soft, delicious cookie itself! When I started baking I tried a ton of different recipes and before long I found my favorite combination of all of them and that was how my recipe was born.
What has been your favorite design or custom order?
My favorite design I have made on a Cookie was an intricate dream catcher I made for my cousin. This design was very intimidating when I was asked to do it, but I loved how it turned out and also it taught me the reward of challenging myself!
Do you think cookies help runners go faster?
I am pretty sure it is a known fact in the running community/world that cookies are an essential part of any runners diet.
How did you and Brittany meet?
Britt and I met while we were both working for a company called OtterBox. Long story short, when she got hired I had already been working there for a few years and I though she stole my job because she was hired for the position I had been applying for for about a year. I had to give a presentation to her new hire orientation and I wasn’t looking forward to meeting her because of this, but a couple days later I found out I also got the job but in a different city. We instantly hit it off and then moved 2,000 miles apart from each other. One thing led to another and we decided to give the long distance thing a try. About a year into our relationship we were both able to move back to Colorado and I proposed immediately!
Are you a runner and if so, what distances do you enjoy?
If I had to choose a favorite race distance for running, I would choose half marathon. I don’t completely consider myself a runner but Britt feels different haha. I really love triathlon and have completed 7 half Ironman races and in 2018 finished my first full Ironman at Ironman Arizona. I am currently training for a half marathon to take place sometime in December but am not competitive with the sport.
What’s the best tip you have for new bakers?
The best tip I have for new bakers is to not be afraid to ask questions from experienced people in the industry! The baking community is full of lovely people and I learned almost everything I know by reaching out directly to ask questions of people who are better than me at what I was trying to do!
If you’d like to learn more of place an order, check out Justin’s website https://www.sugartatscookies.com/ or follow him on instagram @sugartatscookies. You can also learn more about Brittany’s running and an upcoming film by TrainingforUltra in the video below or following her @funnyrunner26.2.