Grounded By Covid, This Flight Attendant’s Cooking Dreams Took Flight
For Michelle Canton, owner of Gou-Oui Cookies in Orlando, Florida, the pandemic inspired a delicious new career. “I used to be a flight attendant,” she said. “I had my son right before the COVID lockdown and I thought, ‘I can’t go back to work and put my family at risk by flying every day.’”
Although she was already an accomplished home cook, Canton wanted to try something a little different and turned to baking. “I started with cake pops, but they were harder than I thought they would be!” she said. “I’m good with flavors but not as into decorating.”
During her years as a flight attendant, she had sampled treats from popular cookie chains. “I always thought, ‘This could be so much better.’” So she pivoted from cake pops to cookies and launched Gou-Oui Cookies with her husband Anthony. The bakery’s name (pronounced “gooey”) is a tribute to Anthony’s Haitian roots: “gou” means “tasty” in Haitian Kreyol, and “oui” is “yes” in French, another important language in Haiti.
Gou-Oui Cookies began as a takeout-only bakery in Tampa via Uber Eats. Eventually, the Cantons relocated to Orlando and opened a storefront in Orlando’s SODO District in December 2021. Thanks to the takeout business and social media buzz, Gou-Oui’s unique cookies already had a devoted following.
Canton uses popular snacks as inspiration for many of her cookie flavors. “Anytime I eat something I think, what can make this even better?” she said. For example, the Bon Voyage is inspired by her time as a flight attendant. The brown sugar cookie dough is mixed with Biscoff cookies (served on Delta flights) and white chocolate chips then stuffed with cookie butter. The funfetti-style Par-Tay cookie includes white chocolate chips, Golden Oreos and rainbow sprinkles, and the Fred Flintstone cookie features Fruity Pebbles cereal.
In addition to the Bon Voyage, Gou-Oui’s bestseller is the Chipper. “It’s a twist on a classic chocolate chip cookie,” she said. “It’s really thick, with two types of chocolate and sea salt mixed into the dough. You get a little hit of salt with every bite.” Like many of Gou-Oui’s cookies, it’s served warm. “It being warm makes it that much better.”
Canton recommends fans follow Gou-Oui Cookies on Instagram and Facebook to learn about the latest specials. There’s a different theme each month, with past offerings including pie-inspired cookies and throwback snacks.
Looking to the future, Canton hopes to open additional locations in the Orlando area and eventually expand to other parts of Florida. Gou-Oui also recently started shipping to the 48 contiguous states, so cookie lovers nationwide can taste Canton’s creative flavors.
“Launching into the rest of the country is really exciting,” she said. “We’ve wanted to do that since the beginning. We’re excited to have found a cost effective way to do it, for us and our customers.”
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