“Nobody needs baked goods, but everybody loves them,” says Lindsay Koenig, the owner of Triple Chip, which now delivers cookies, babkas, pies, and more throughout Santa Barbara. “I love watching people’s faces when you bring them something, especially when it’s unexpected.”
That happened to me when Koenig dropped off a box of her goodies on a recent Friday. I’d forgotten they were coming, so my family was overjoyed to see an array of sweets, from the signature triple-chocolate chip and brown butter chocolate chip cookies to the cinnamon and birthday-cake babkas. I was drawn to the one savory treat: an everything-bagel babka with confit garlic cream cheese woven throughout. The box was dusted within a couple of days.
Koenig learned to love baking as a young child, cooking with her mother and grandmother in their Sherman Oaks home. “We’re a Jewish family,” she explained. “I grew up always making desserts for the holidays.”
While attending the very progressive Wildwood School in West Los Angeles, Koenig was able to cook for class projects. For example, she said, “I did a paper and presentation on China, and I made dim sum.” She also baked in her free time, bringing cookies to school almost weekly, and figured she’d go to culinary school one day.
But traditional college came first at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon, where she studied studio arts while cooking muffins and more in the cafeteria. Then she moved back to L.A. and gained real-world kitchen experience in Suzanne Goin’s restaurants. When it was time to choose a culinary school in 2014, Koenig opted for the “super small and specialized” San Francisco Cooking School.
“It just seemed like my dream,” said Koenig, whose class had just six students. “What was really special about this school is that it was created by chefs in the industry in San Francisco. They were finding that a lot of people coming out of CIA [Culinary Institute of America] or Le Cordon Bleu didn’t know how to function in the kitchen, but they could regurgitate recipes.”
The lessons were hands-on, often led by Michelin-starred chefs, and included many visits to working kitchens. “That’s more of my style — learning why we do what we do and how rather than just memorizing,” said Koenig, who also appreciated learning the chemistry of baking at the school, where they’d make six batches of the same cookies with slight tweaks and then analyze what happened. “That was very essential.”
Upon graduation in 2015, Koenig helped open the San Francisco modern Moroccan restaurant Mourad, which quickly won a Michelin star, but then wanted to get back into baking. She landed a job at Tartine, considered a global leader in bread and pastry, and was part of the team that opened The Manufactory, Tartine’s second location. Though she was head of the cake department, Koenig quit after about a year and a half. “It was never my city,” she said of San Francisco, which she left in January 2018.
She traveled through Europe for five months, and then worked on a farm in Tennessee for three. “I always thought it was extremely important for chefs to know where their food comes from and how much work goes into growing their products,” she explained. “Even though I’m a pastry chef, and mainly work with flour and sugar, it’s still something that has always been really important to me.”
Needing to “come back to real life,” Koenig decided to move to Santa Barbara, briefly working at El Encanto before meeting the owners of the soon-to-be-opened Bettina through a family friend. She helped open that immediately popular Coast Village Road pizzeria and stayed almost two years, doing a bit of everything, from managing staff to making dough and desserts. When COVID struck, she started making hand pies with seasonal fruits, which the Bettina owners suggested she offer through the restaurant. “They ended up selling really well,” she said. “That’s how this business started.”
She left Bettina in June to focus full-time on Triple Chip, named after the chocolate chip cookie that she’s been making since high school. Orders first came solely through Instagram until Koenig built a website and also landed a wholesale client in Natural Café, where she sells the brown butter chocolate chip and a vegan, gluten-free peanut butter cookie in all South Coast locations. “I know vegan and gluten-free doesn’t always sound appetizing,” she admitted. “But this is really delicious.”
Koenig bought a new home in December, inconveniently during her holiday rush, but it gave her a larger kitchen to work in, which she does under a cottage permit. She’s done some collaborations with The Bagel Boiz (next one on January 23) and Challah by Ari, but is most proud of providing exactly what you want when you want it. That includes things that aren’t on her menu, such as the snacks she made for a baby on a paleo diet.
“A lot of pop-ups focus on one day of the week, which makes sense from a business standpoint,” said Koenig. “But I really like the idea of people being able to order whatever they like from me at any time.”
Though she’d like to pick up more wholesale accounts, she doesn’t plan on opening her own brick-and-mortar store, at least right now. “I’m not a businessperson,” she said. “I really love to be in the kitchen, and I love to be the one baking. I’m not worried about paying rent for my bakery or paying dishwashers or bookkeepers. I’m really able to just charge for the food.”
Koenig is confident that Triple Chip provides comfort during an unprecedentedly stressful era. “I just want to provide a good option for people in Santa Barbara with fun desserts,” said Koenig. “When the world is in such uncertain times, and there is so much sadness and unrest, people need something sweet to remind them of the past, a little nostalgia.”
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