Your Daily Dose of Doughpamine

Jessica Entzel

Jessica Entzel Nolan honed her skills working in the kitchens of celebrated chefs Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Masaharu Morimoto. She was nominated as Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Pastry Chef at just 27 years old, Zagat‘s 30 under 30, and is the reigning champion of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. Most recently, she worked as a Senior Inspector for the Michelin Guide. When motherhood had her down one day, she realized she needed a cookie for a shot of dopamine to improve her mood. Not only did the cookie make her happy, but it led to a genius business idea. Doughpamine is delicious happiness in the form of chef-inspired, gourmet cookie dough ready to bake in your own kitchen. Jessica chatted with Beyondish about her business, balancing motherhood and cookies….lots of delicious cookies!

You have quite the impressive resume. And you’ve accomplished so much at such a young age. How would you say your experiences have led you to where you are today?

Thank you!! I grew up in a small coal mining town in North Dakota and desperately wanted to see what else was out there. My mother was a Mexican immigrant who moved to the US when she was 18, and the only word of English she spoke was the word “work”. While I look less like my mother than any of my siblings, she always tells me I’m the only one with fire in my blood like her. Meaning that I wasn’t afraid to leave my home in search of something more, and had the work ethic to follow through.

How would you compare working for Gordon Ramsay and competing on Cutthroat Kitchen to running your own business?

Working for Gordon Ramsay and competing on Cutthroat Kitchen was nowhere as difficult as being a mother – the most challenging job I’ve ever had! Running Doughpamine has been so much more fun than working in a restaurant and is the perfect balance to being a mom, now that my kids are in school. As for Cutthroat Kitchen, I hope I can go back, and this time as a judge.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far?

You can’t be an expert at everything, so find niche experts and find a way to partner with them. Before I launched, I brought in Neal Gottlieb, former CEO/Founder of Three Twins Ice Cream as an advisor and it’s been one of the major reasons why we were able to move so quickly.

Any secrets you can share with us from your time as a Michelin inspector?

When I was an inspector, I dined in restaurants five days a week for lunch and dinner. The one thing I can share is that I wasn’t allowed to order salad because it didn’t show enough technique.

I love the concept behind Doughpamine. It’s so catchy! What led to starting your own business? And why cookies? Can you explain the concept behind the brand?

I had left my dream job as a Michelin inspector, moved to the suburbs and was struggling with my mental health. I felt like I needed a hit of dopamine, by way of a little sweet treat, to get through the day. A warm, fresh-baked cookie felt so luxurious and satisfying. The ease of having a freezer full of pre-scooped dough whenever I needed a little pick-me-up felt so perfect, and I began to share the dough with neighbors and friends. I love food puns, and when the idea came to me, I immediately bought the domain not knowing exactly what I was going to do with it. It seemed like a natural progression to start a cookie business, as I had been yearning to re-find my professional identity. Also, the reason why I made my own dough was because there wasn’t any fancy or gourmet cookie dough in the local grocery stores. I had an “Aha” moment when it hit me.

What are some of the biggest challenges of running a business?

I took out a small business loan and I’m a self-funded business. So it feels kind of like high-stakes gambling, and I don’t have the nerves for gambling.

And conversely, what are the biggest rewards?

It’s such a fantastic feeling to see your product on the shelf of a grocery store. Or when someone cool likes it. I sent some to B.J. Novak and he liked them so much we had a Zoom call and it honestly felt like a fever dream.

Are cookies your favorite thing to bake?

No, Soufflés are because they’re much rarer to find, and even more rare to do well.

How do you choose the cookie flavors?

Miso peanut butter and salty chocolate chunk are riffs on customers’ favorites in other places I’ve worked. Blueberry Corn happened when I was making something for a friend and iterated with other baker friends. Rhapsody Road happened because I love S’mores so much.

Any words of advice for an amateur baker?

Don’t be afraid to experiment! People are always afraid to play in baking, but it’s really simple to make substitutions for fats, sugars, and flours and come up with brand-new flavor combinations. I’m working on a cookbook with the hilarious Gabi Moskowitz on this topic.

Do you have any favorite restaurants or bakeries that you can share with us?

So many! I love food so much! For bakeries, I love Arsicault, Maison Nico, and Breadbelly (in addition to being a terrific bakery, Clement, one of the owners, is a fantastic human and I will never forget his random kindness on a particularly rough day). For restaurants, my most favorite and frequented is Nari.


Elizabeth Hazard

Elizabeth Hazard is a writer, producer and photography editor. Her work has appeared in various publications and she writes frequently about art, culture, fashion and history.



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