Founder of the Westcott Cookie Company, Chris Gentile ’10, doesn’t have the typical chef story. As a child, his mother and grandmother were both talented cooks and there was no shortage of good food on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he grew up. While raised around a lot of delicious food and with cooking in his blood, Chris didn’t become interested in cooking until adulthood.
Like many entrepreneurs, Chris wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do after college. After graduating from Syracuse University’s College of Arts & Sciences with a degree in psychology, he briefly worked at a recording studio and helped his brother Ant Gentile, also a Syracuse alum, with a production company before working at a tech company. However, that role didn’t click for Chris and he was left feeling unfulfilled. When he had down time, Chris would often cook and bake. So, after some time off from work and candid reflection, he decided to go to culinary school at the International Culinary Center (ICC) in Manhattan.
After graduating from the ICC, Chris worked at some of New York’s top restaurants but was fighting an urge to get out of the City. Just before the pandemic hit, he visited a friend near Syracuse and thought that Westcott would be a good place to settle down. With no real plan other than leaving the Big Apple, Chris decided to move to the Westcott neighborhood in 2020.
So, why cookies? Shortly after the move, Chris baked chocolate chip cookies at home for his friends and they loved them. Their passionate reactions to his cookies—which he had been refining for years—led Chris to start the Westcott Cookie Company in January 2021.
Currently, the Westcott Cookie Co. has eight flavors. Some favorites include Salted Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Buttercrunch Toffee, Chocolate Caramel, and a gluten-free Chocolate Chip that’s made with almond flour. Chris even makes a Lemon Herb cookie with herbs infused into the butter and then topped with a lemon-thyme glaze.
Like any entrepreneurial venture, the Westcott Cookie Co. hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Chris. He recalls a time when he drastically underestimated how many cookies he would need for his booth at the Westcott Fair over the summer. Just one hour into the eight-hour event, Chris realized he was going to run out of cookies. So he got a couple of friends to man the booth and went back to the cafe where he immediately started baking. As Chris churned out batch after batch of cookies, his girlfriend would drive the boxes of warm pastries back over to the Westcott Cookie booth. The cookies were selling just as fast as he could bake them. The silver lining? A lot of people got to enjoy a bunch of really warm cookies. Chris learned a lot from this experience – most notably to bake way more cookies for next year.
A lot of exciting things are on the horizon for the Westcott Cookie Co. Chris is working on setting up nationwide shipping and is looking to expand into some more festivals and markets. Meanwhile, he is excited to continue creating new cookie flavors as well as some other menu items, such as hot chocolate and milkshakes.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Chris says, “Don’t underestimate the power of momentum and don’t underestimate the power of one small step.”
Go try some of the best cookies in the world! Order them online for pickup or delivery at www.westcottcookieco.com. They make great stress relief for finals and outstanding holiday gifts. Or, go to the brand new Westcott Cookie Company store – launching this week at 719 East Genesee Street (check online for store hours).
You can also find Chris at the Regional Market every Saturday and the Fayetteville Market every first and third Thursday of the month. Alternatively, you can order the cookies for delivery or pickup on Grubhub and Doordash.
Chris is interested in providing internship opportunities for Syracuse students – particularly any interested in marketing communications, content development, social media strategy, sales and business development, or other areas related to food startups. For students looking for a sweet opportunity (especially Whitman students who need an internship), feel free to reach out directly to Chris. firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-395-7450. Or drop by the story (located in the former Strong Hearts Café space at 719 Genesee Street.
Follow the Westcott Cookie Co at: https://www.instagram.com/westcottcookieco
Chris Gentile judging the recent LaunchPad’s Great Holiday Cookie Bake-Off Competition at the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad