Natalie’s crumbs of comfort

LEAVING the rat race has cooked up a sweet success story for Natalie Bertina. For many years, including a decade in New York, she worked for the cream of corporate executives until one day she decided the pressure of life was too great and instead chose t

LEAVING the rat race has cooked up a sweet success story for Natalie Bertina.

For many years, including a decade in New York, she worked for the cream of corporate executives until one day she decided the pressure of life was too great and instead chose to seek a new career...in her kitchen at home.

She and her electrician husband Michael and son Alec had moved from their home in London into the tranquil village of Lilley where their home is sandwiched between the Lilley Arms pub and the church on West Street.

It was a very big step and one that meant a lot of discussion between Natalie, 37, and her husband. But she was determined to follow her dream of being her own boss and working from home doing what she really loved...cooking cookies!


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In her travels around the world she collected a veritable library of cookery books on the subject and when she flew the corporate city nest earlier this year she also began writing down recipes of her own to produce what she describes as the perfect "comfort food".

Now every Friday the heat is on in her kitchen for 16 hours while she prepares and cooks over 300 mouth-watering cookies of at least seven different varieties ready to go on sale at her stall at Hitchin Market to tempt anyone with a sweet tooth.

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In the early days, before her stall became so popular, she would often take cookies home and give them to the village church to be nibbled over coffee after Sunday service.

Now, though, there are often only crumbs remaining in her woven baskets as regular visitors to the market are snapping up her wares with increasing frequency as her popularity grows. And now she is offering to make cookies for dinners and children's parties as well as making her own festive cookie the Christmas Crackle!

"I was born in a small town in Latvia. I later worked as an assistant to chief executives for companies in New York and London then for a company who head hunted executives," said Natalie.

"Then came a time when I wanted to pursue what I wanted to do and it meant making huge changes in my life. I wasn't enjoying my career trying to make hideous targets every year. What I am doing now was always in the back of my mind but I had to work out the logistics and this is how I ended up in Lilley.

"I wanted to spend more time with my family. A lot of children miss their childhood with their parents because parents are commuting and coming home late at night. In too many cases children who grow up in this kind of environment become strangers to their parents.

"I wanted to not just live in Lilley but enjoy such a beautiful place as well and be close to my family. Now I can do all these things with my business."

Natalie added: "I looked at what I could do very well and it was cooking which is something I get a lot of job satisfaction out of.

"To me cookies are a symbol of comfort and when I was in New York I began collecting recipe books and now I go through them and select the best of the best to make for people to buy on the market.

"I have never been happier in my life and I am still working hard to build up my business. I certainly have no regrets starting my cookie business."

To make personal orders for Natalie's cookies for children's parties and dinner parties you can contact he on 01462 768149 or look out for her on her stall Cookie Jar Gems at Hitchin market on Saturday.

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