Cat Island Cookies
Years ago I worked at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center. The pay was little; we were laid off every summer and we waited for our paychecks if a grant came a wee bit too late. But I also worked with passionate colleagues, was constantly inspired and was grateful for its child-friendly culture. I was able to pick my daughter, writer Eve Crawford Peyton, up after school, stay home with her when she was sick and I often brought her to work. She experienced an intimate artistic education. She meet artist Dale Chihuly, helped me retrieve the Blue Man Group (sans makeup) from the airport and gained practical experience putting together multiple bulk mailings.
I am an unabashed feminist. I support all women in choosing how to raise their children — from working 70-hour weeks and providing enriched care to choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. I also support moms, such as Leslie Bullock, president of Cat Island Cookie & Cracker Co., who choose to start their own businesses.
Bullock began her cooking career working for free at one of New York City’s premier eateries, Tribeca Grill. During the day, she worked in public relations and when night fell she worked in the kitchen. Eventually, she was hired and gave up her day job. She began to learn the kitchen — from saucier to garde manger. Finally, she found her place as a pastry chef and worked for years in several of New York’s most renowned restaurants.
But in 2010, Bullock decided to return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to give her two daughters a chance to be around family and have some freedom to explore the world safely.
“My girls weren’t free to go out and play,” she says. “And raising children in New York City was expensive. It was time to come home.”
Bullock was raised in Pass Christian and went to college at Tulane. She thinks New Orleans and Pass Christian are kindred cities and supports both equally.
“I love coming into New Orleans for dinners at Commander’s Palace and Deanie’s and to go to Saints games.”
When she first came back she tried catering, but ran into the same problem: finding time for her girls.
“I, of course, worked nights and on weekends and rarely saw my girls,” she says.
She decided to go back to her passion and opened Cat Island Cookies. She started in a church kitchen but finally moved into her 2,000-sq-ft. space in Pass Christian. She’s responsible for every aspect of running her start-up business, from recipe development to distribution.
“I love what I do because every day is different,” she says. “And I love the positive feedback I receive from customers and I love creating in the kitchen.”
Everything Bullock bakes is made with pure, natural ingredients and is 100 percent preservative free. She bakes two taste profiles.
Her sweet cookies are made with fresh butter, pure lemon and lime oil, and rich chocolate chips. Her savory crackers are made using a blend of pure butter with aged asiago or sharp cheddar cheese, red pepper and finished with a touch of fresh sea salt.
She makes 450 to 500 bags of cookies a day and sells her wares in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and cities in Texas. Locally, you can find Cat Island Cookies at Langenstein’s and Dorignac’s. You can also order through her website. Currently, she’s offering Mardi Gras baskets, which include festive green and purple Mardi Gras masks, colorful beads and yumminess.
As to her daughters, they are flourishing.
“Lilly, 16, wants to study physics, and Margot, 15, plans on going to a college located on a beach,” she laughs. “And I love spending time with them and expect to see them in the bakery this summer.”
Cat Island Cookies & Crackers
6340 Kiln-Delisle Road
Pass Christian, MS
(228) 222 5931