Day in the Life: Meet the Dubai baker feeding residents and keeping them fit

Amanda Jenkins is a personal trainer and co-founder of startup Cookie Conspiracy

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A Day in the Life” allows you to step into the shoes of a UAE resident to experience a typical 24 hours in their work and home life

After relocating to Dubai seven years ago to work as a personal trainer, Amanda Jenkins went on to co-establish the baking start-up Cookie Conspiracy when her employer expanded their business to the city.

Having studied history in the UK and graduated from Kent University with Lord of the Rings star Orlando Bloom when he received an honorary degree, she spent a year studying in Miami before entering fashion PR and then becoming a dance radio station presenter.

Fast-forward and Ms Jenkins, 35, is an established independent personal trainer and last year she took inspiration from her mum’s baking lessons to launch her limited edition, bespoke-flavours cookies concept.

Now her fitness clients are among customers for her creations with cheeky names such as The Bodyguard, Absolutely Shredded, The Love Affair, and Rai-sin Shine.

4am: Hound rounds

A very early start for a walk around JLT with Dexter the Frenchie, and back for showers and breakfast.

“That first hour is largely taken up by dog responsibilities. Then I have to leave the house by 5am,” says Ms Jenkins, who also enjoys hiking, cycling and water sports.

5.30am: Dawn coaching

Into the gym in Al Quoz for the first booked training session.

“Every day at this time I have a client who doesn’t like to work out on their own,” she says.

“My second group are people who just want to get cardiovascular fitness … to feel like they can run around with their kids. And then I’ve another group of people, purely in for aesthetics.”

Ms Jenkins also might deliver a consultation. “That’s where education comes in; you can’t just eat a rice cake a day, just so you can look good.”

11am: Oven steady

Cookie Conspiracy headquarters is also in Al Quoz, so the British entrepreneur can juggle her roles.

“The bakery is seven minutes away from the gym, so I can just scoot down during my quietest [training] times, when most people are at work,” she says.

Ms Jenkins checks the courier company has the names, addresses and phone numbers for impending deliveries.

She makes 1,200 cookies a week, filling 100 boxes.

“The dough and the cookies are made the day before because they need to chill. Then everything’s baked fresh on the day,” she explains.

12-3pm: Top fun

A “very regimented system” kicks in as consignments are prepared.

“I’ve got to make sure my timings are perfect,” Ms Jenkins says.

“I’ve baked my cookies, I’ve already got my toppings ready and in order. Then, it’s all about decorating and packaging up.”

Cookie Conspiracy operates from a trendy kitchen in a former spice store.

“We completely gutted it and, because my partner’s in lighting, he made it absolutely sensational. The light box changes colour, so does the backlight, for different vibes, such as when it’s Valentine’s Day.”

Ms Jenkins says she wanted her own “little secret location” – rather than a cloud kitchen – where she could protect her “secret recipes”.

“And I don’t have to answer to anyone … that’s probably why I’m self-employed – I don’t like other people telling me what to do.”

3pm: Seal the deal

The cookies are ready for the final stages before couriers arrive to collect them.

“We wait for everything to dry and then put them in their resealable pouches and seal them by hand,” says Ms Jenkins, who then packs them into boxes.

“Once you’ve got your pouch you can slip it in your kid’s lunch box, you can take it to work with you.”

Cookie Conspiracy grew out of Ms Jenkins’ love of baking, which further evolved during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

“My love language is feeding people,” she says. “I’m a personal trainer, but I always used to bake with my mum.

“I’ve got quite a perfectionist kind of personality, so I get fixated on something. And I just kept making cookies and everyone seemed to love them.”

Daily at the gym, post-lockdown, she would give away 10-15 cookies. Then somebody asked when she might start selling them.

“If it wasn’t for my partner, Elliot, giving me the push, I wouldn’t have done it, because it was such a big jump.

“I absolutely love coming in every day and creating different cookie flavours,” she says. “My staff member Sam carries on once I’m gone.”

3.30-7pm: Cardio comeback

Back to the gym for afternoon clients.

Ms Jenkins specialises in strength and conditioning, improving cardiovascular endurance while getting people stronger.

Surely there’s a clash of ideals with the cookies?

“This is the misconception … cookies don’t make you fat, but eating 50 will,” she says. “There’s a big difference.

“I eat a cookie a day. You can have balance; you can eat what you want, you can work out, and you can still be fit.

“But that’s where the name Cookie Conspiracy came from … everyone joked, ‘you’re trying to get your clients fat … to then get them fit’.”

Baking began on December 10 with Ms Jenkins releasing 12 fresh versions weekly.

“We take photos of the new flavours, we get packages printed, 12 new names on the packets. Then everything is reset on a Sunday. So it’s a lot of work.”

7pm: All be Quoz

Some days sees Ms Jenkins head straight back to the bakery, largely double checking everything’s OK.

“There was one incident where I came back after Elliot had been in … I made all the cookies for the day before putting them in the fridge, and the fridge door was open so about 1,000 cookies were destroyed.”

Sometimes, Ms Jenkins bakes small extra batches, or does some research and development on potential flavour additions.

“You can make little changes that make them a little bit different,” she says.

“For example, there’s so much British chocolate, different flavours, you can put in there that a lot people have never heard of.

“Once we start to get an idea from our customers of their favourite flavours we are going to have a core collection on the website that they can order whenever they want. For now, it’s more about seeing what people love the most, and then bringing it back.”

Currently Ms Jenkins has about 100 flavours “backed up” for her online-only, limited drops model.

“Every Sunday, we have a limited amount of boxes that you can buy, so it’s about exclusivity.

“We will open (for orders) from midnight on Saturday midnight until Sunday midnight. And if the boxes run out, a message will pop up and say you missed out.”

Customers then choose their delivery slot and the preparation and baking begins.

“We are really trying to stop waste,” says Ms Jenkins. “It’s not like a bakery where at the end of the day you’ve got leftover doughnuts or cookies. We know how much we’re baking, so waste is zero.”

Each box contains three cookies to put in the fridge – which taste better cold – and others for the microwave so they go gooey.

“Me and Elliot have eaten probably every single cookie (brand) in Dubai, to the dismay of his waistline,” she says of research for her business. “It’s funny because I did a transformation with him previously and got him absolutely ripped with a six pack.”

8pm: Home straight

An evening walk for Dexter and time to unwind – although Ms Jenkins often brings new flavours home to sample.

“I will be always looking for different combinations, constantly thinking,” she admits.

“The biggest thing for me is actually creating the names and descriptions of the cookies. It’s very much my personality, tongue in cheek.”

Ms Jenkins says they enjoy a quick dinner together, usually pre-prepared, sit down, no distractions and just talk about their day.

“And then we sit in front of the TV for approximately – no joke – maybe five minutes before bed about 9pm. It takes us forever to watch a series or a movie.”

Ms Jenkins says she doesn’t really switch off. “I dream about cookies, it’s become my personality,” she laughs. “I want Cookie Conspiracy to be a household name.”

Updated: January 23, 2024, 3:30 AM