Ever since sampling the dazzling pink daisy cookies at her first cookie swap, Julia has been a lover of all things sweet. As a young child, Julia cultivated her budding cooking skills by riding the apron strings of her mom – an accomplished home baker who ran a tight kitchen. “Make it from scratch or keep it out of your mouth” was her mother’s favorite mantra. By the age of 12 – while other kids were still tinkering with their Easy-Bake ovens – Julia was wowing friends and families with lavishly decorated yeast breads and multi-layer tortes. (Julia was also known on occasion to whip up a very lifelike soap and mud frosting cake for her sometimes pesky little sister.)
Julia worked as a mechanical engineer and management consultant after graduating from Yale in 1984, but even while climbing the corporate ladder, she never put aside her appetite for baking. In 1994, Julia decided to turn her passion into her profession by enrolling in the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. She graduated valedictorian, receiving the coveted M.F.K. Fisher Prize for outstanding scholarship in 1996. One year later, Julia opened AzucArte, a boutique bakery widely lauded for its wedding cakes that tasted as wonderful as they looked.
After tiring of relentless weekend work, Julia closed her shop in 2005 and turned to writing and food styling to satisfy her sweet tooth. She became Contributing Editor at Dessert Professional, a 2008 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards finalist, and an entertaining consultant, party producer, and prop stylist for St. Louis AT HOME magazine. Over the next four years, her work, written and edible, appeared in Vera Wang on Weddings, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, Gastronomica, Woman’s World, Where Women Cook, and nearly every national bridal magazine.
In 2009, Julia released her first book, Cookie Swap, which subsequently won three prestigious Cordon d’ Or Awards, including one for Best in Competition. And in 2011, she released a second book, Ultimate Cookies, an inspirational collection of edible cookie art projects endorsed by celebrity cake designers Kerry Vincent and Colette Peters. Never one to rest on her laurels, Julia went on to turn her books into e-books and a cookie decorating app that includes 15 instructional videos along with in-depth technique instruction and 20 incredible cookie projects.
Pink Daisy Cookies Dazzle in Cookie Swap
Photo by Steve Adams
Julia in a Rare Moment Away from Her Kitchen
Photo by Karen Forsythe
More recently, Julia has gained worldwide recognition as a leading sugar artist, with a specialty in 3-D cookie decorating. When not making instructional videos for her popular YouTube channel Recipes for a Sweet Life, Julia operates Cookie Connection, the world’s largest online community for cookie decorators; teaches decorating classes across the globe; and judges various sugar art competitions, including her namesake cookie competition at the acclaimed Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS), the Cookie Connection annual Cookiers’ Choice Awards, and Cake Masters magazine’s annual awards.
In 2013, Julia won Cake Masters’ first-ever Cookier of the Year award; in 2014, she received the coveted Medal of Honor from OSSAS for her outstanding contributions to the sugar arts community; and, in 2016, she was recognized as both Artist of the Year USA and International Artist of the Year by Edible Artists Global Awards (EAGA). She was also a finalist for four 2016 TASTE awards related to her video work on YouTube, and launched a cookie stencil line in partnership with Stencil Ease, the country’s largest producer of craft and household stencils.
Julia is a Past President of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a founding member of the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier International, and a three-time President of the St. Louis Culinary Society. In addition to her degree from Yale, Julia holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from Stanford.