Cookies and grandmas. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, and cake and ice cream. So when lifelong foodie Ken Velky was itching to ditch his desk job and get back into the food biz, he started toying with mass producing his Grandma MacKenzie’s shortbread cookie recipe, a treat that had always been a family favorite.
But his Scottish grandmother wasn’t the only shortbread aficionado in his family. His mother-in-law, Grandma (to his kids) McIntyre, had a recipe she called Millionaires Shortbread that was pretty swoon-worthy, as well. Her buttery confections were topped with caramel and chocolate, making a basically butter cookie even better.
Velky, a White Bear Lake resident, has been giving food gifts to family and friends around the holidays for years, often gifting his über popular shortbread. With his Grandma MacKenzie’s recipe for a shortbread base, he added Grandma McIntyre’s toppings to make an amped-up version of Millionaires Shortbread. When he decided to dive into food full-time, both the product and the name for his new business were obvious. Dueling Grandmas Shortbread was born.
That’s the short(bread) story. Now to fill in all the delicious details of how he got from dreaming to doing. For her October 2020 wedding, Velky’s niece didn’t want a wedding cake—she wanted Uncle Ken’s Millionaire’s Shortbread instead. It was a hit with the guests, who enthused, “You could sell this stuff!” That encouragement and a serendipitous chat with wedding caterer Molly Behymer (owner of Creative Catering) about renting professional kitchen space were timely for Velky.
That fall, in the middle of the pandemic, Velky was taking stock of more than just car inventory (his day job). He really wanted to pursue his dream of doing something with this amazing shortbread and turn it into a business. So on October 31, he quit his job. On November 1, he started Dueling Grandmas. He rented kitchen space in Little Canada from Behymer and launched a website. His wife works in marketing, so she helped with social media and other details to get him up and running. All their efforts paid off, and he was able to sell what he needed to that first holiday season. His college-age twins now tell friends their, “Dad quit his job to make cookies.”
And he did. Velky, the self-titled chief operating grandma, bakes all his own artisan goods and uses the best quality elements for these high-end treats. All the ingredients are homemade—he makes his own caramel, toasts the almonds and uses fresh lemon zest. That’s what makes Dueling Grandmas Shortbread so delectable, the perfect gift for the holidays, birthdays or any other special occasion.
Give as gifts, or treat yourself. Try the one that started it all, Millionaires Shortbread, up the ante with the Billionaires Shortbread (peanut butter and another layer of chocolate are added to the millionaires mix), or enjoy a seasonal flavor such as Orange Cranberry. Can’t make up your mind? Try a Granny Pack with a sample of everything. You may just be uttering, “Amazing” and “OMG” with the rest of Velky’s super-satisfied customers.
Dueling Grandmas; duelinggrandmas.com
Dueling Grandmas @duelinggrandmas