It is Hala Audi Beydoun. With her artistic touch and her smile, she introduced her impressive, colorful and homemade Yummies (“with love” of course) to people’s hearts. She describes herself as a ‘caker, baker and yummy things maker”. From stylishly iced tiered cakes, to animal cakes, candy cakes and dolly cakes, no two cakes are alike. Her path in life was not that easy as she fought and survived cancer several times. Nevertheless, that never stopped her love for life and her passion for baking and creating beautiful, delicious sweets every day.
Meet Hala Audi Beydoun.
1. What is Cocoa and Co?
Cocoa & Co. is a boutique catering company that specializes in bespoke decorated cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and other “Yummies”! The central “Kitch’in” supplies the two existing retail outlets (in Beirut Souks and Marqet Koraytem) as well private and corporate clients.
2. How did you come up with this idea? How did you make it happen?
It all started with my daughters’ birthdays. I would hold big parties for them in our garden in the mountains and would prepare everything myself from scratch. The need to do something new and original that looked and tasted great was my main incentive. After that, my friends started asking me to cater to their parties and so it all started, from my home kitchen for 7 years at first, juggling kids and a teaching job, until the house could no longer accommodate all the orders and we moved out to the kitch’in.
3. What is the most challenging part of your business?
The most challenging part in this kind of business is maintaining quality and creativity in a world that is moving fast towards the “mediocre” product. We have been baking with the best ingredients for more than 13 years and we continue to do so. We “listen” to our clients and try to give them exactly what they want. Our “edible art” products and our constantly new ideas have kept us one-step ahead of competition.
4. What are your future plans?
With the opening of our two new stores, we are strengthening our presence in the market as well as our brand. We hope to grow it further locally and hopefully soon internationally. We already ship to clients abroad and are studying options for expansion outside Lebanon.
5. Did you have this love for Yummy things when you were young?
I have always loved yummy desserts. Ever since I was a little girl, I used to sit with my mother in the kitchen and watch her concoct all sorts of cakes and puddings. She would always make me “taste” for her and give her my opinion.
6. What makes Cocoa and Co so special and yummy?
Mainly the love that we put into each item we produce. The ingredients are the best a housewife or mother could bring. The cleanliness with which we prepare our products and the precision with which we decorate them are major prerequisites to anything we produce. The time spent researching a cake or cookie and the artistic/design factor that we put in I think differentiates us from the rest.
7. What is your yummiest favorite item?
Hmmm. That is a difficult question. It has to be anything made with chocolate! Our brownies are famous and have been dubbed “the best!” I also love our Lazy Cake with Nutella. Mmmmm
8. Who is Hala Audi Beydoun?
First and foremost, I am a mother of three beautiful daughters and a wife to a fantastic artist. I am also a daughter, a sister and a friend. I am an ex-teacher. In addition, I am a baker, caker and yummy things maker. I like to think of myself as a cake/cookie designer or a “boutique” caterer. Above all, I am a Survivor and a Fighter and so grateful to have been given a second and third chance at life.
9. A message to Lebanese Women
Do not be afraid to fight for what you want. Be strong. Seek that which makes you happy and pursue it. Give time to your family but also to yourself. You can only be good to others when you are good to your own self. Moreover, of course, do not give up, no matter how hard it may seem.