On the Line: Shahira Marei And Sally Elgamil Of The Dirty Cookie, Part One

Besties in business
Besties in business
Photo by Dustin Ames

Friends are part of our support network. They know what makes us tick, and we count on them for advice and support. So when you get into business with one, it can be a great thing. The ladies behind The Dirty Cookie inside Tustin's Union Market prove it.

Most undervalued ingredient: Sally Elgamil : Not the ingredient itself, but its quality. People undermine the power of local organic ingredients and how delicious they taste. It's more about the freshness and goodness of the ingredient than anything else, really. Shahira Marei: Vanilla. People don't value the power of vanilla.

Best culinary tip for the home baker: Both: Follow the recipe to the letter! Unless it's your own recipe, then follow your heart!

Let's go over your different types of cookies and milks. Both: Classic chocolate chip, cookies n' cream and red velvet. Milk options are vanilla cream and chocolate cream (Both creams are made with organic milk.), regular organic milk and organic vanilla almond. We also offer two sandwich cookies - matcha green tea with black sesame buttercream filling and chocolate cookie with mint buttercream filling.

Favorite meal growing up: Both: We loved, and still do love stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs, it takes time and effort to make, but when you finally get to eat it, you can savor all that labor that was built-in it with every bite. It's both light and flavorful.

Your best recent food find (from where?): S.E.: The Kroft poutine, of course [Editor's Note: It's also Sally's favorite place to eat.]

How did you come up with the concept? S.M.: We wanted to bring cookies and milk back, but with a unique twist. We came across the cookie shot idea, but we wanted to make it better and use premium ingredients with multiple milk flavors to satisfy everyone. We also didn't forget about vegan and gluten-free cookies. We all agreed that you can't beat cookies with milk! After much research and collaboration, we are proudly serving cookies and milk with a twist.

How did you come up with the name? I came up with a list of names and ran it by my sister. She told me none of them were catchy- so she's like how about The Dirty Cookie? She based it on the idea of a dirty chai; instead of a shot of espresso, it is a shot of milk. We wanted a catchy name that will leave our customers intrigued and coming for more!

One food you can't live without: S.E.: I cannot live without a good, hearty bread! Local bakeries and farmer's market squaw bread! Hard to beat that. S.M.: Chocolate. Life is meaningless without chocolate

Where was your most recent meal? S.E.: Today's lunch! It was Thai food. I love hot, green curries.

What is your beverage of choice? S.E.: My beverage of choice and the one I cannot live without is coffee! I get my favorite vanilla soy latte from Portola, the coffee lab. S.M.: Vanilla Latte from Portola as well.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Both: Cow's tongue and brain.

Your earliest food memory: I remember shadowing my mother in the kitchen while she prepared our daily lunch and dinner. She never stuck to a recipe, yet everything she made was absolutely delicious. I'd help her around the house, and whenever I got homework done I would be rewarded with one of her scrumptious, home-baked cakes.

You're making breakfast. What are you having? Eggs and toast.

What were the challenges to opening a storefront? How did you overcome them? S.E.: The challenges we faced were countless. A lot had to do with timing. We knew what we wanted and how to execute, but it all took a lot of time which we didn't have. It seemed that we were short on time because we were trying to open as soon as possible, but with a little help it came through beautifully, serving the wonderful people of Orange County all the delicious cookie shots they can handle. S.M.: We honestly just hussled, took no breaks and kept pushing to open by July 31st.

Any plans to expand? Both: Yes we are thinking of expanding very soon.

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best: Both: Desserts!

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