Interview with Joanne Adirim, Founder, CEO, & Pastry Chef

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself? How did you get started? 
Joanne Adirim: I founded the company in 1993 with a mission to create delicious gourmet desserts for local foodservice. I rented a space in a catering kitchen in Culver City, CA. In the beginning, I was the only employee baking, selling, delivering, running operations from an office in my apartment, etc. Shortly thereafter, I hired some kitchen help. Within a years time I moved into my own space in Los Angeles. My background is a self-taught pastry chef with a passion for baking. I have been personally baking since I was in elementary school and could open a box of cake and cookie mix. I was an avid reader of everything baking and cooking. I was not formally trained as I chose a more traditional path to college. I graduated Boston University with a degree in psychology. From there I went to graduate school for clinical psychology. I worked with the the crazy of crazies until I decided to follow my true passion - baking. 

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about Hannahmax? How did that begin?
Joanne Adirim: Over time, I grew the business with the help of several employees who I hired for baking and office work. My husband was a big supporter financially and through the wee hours of the night, when he would take off his suit jacket, (he would) roll up his sleeves and scoop cookie dough.
Eventually, my husband decided to move from his successful career into the business full time due to a large win with a retailer who we continue to work with today. We co-pack for this retailer under their brand label. The business grew substantially over the years and eventually my husband and I purchased our first building. We built the home of Hannahmax Baking in Gardenia, CA approximately 10 years ago. Until 2012, Hannahmax Baking only made gourmet perishable desserts. 
We have a portfolio of hundreds of desserts we make for foodservice and retailers. In 2012, we launched crunchy cookie chips. This product was developed for fun at home during the summer of 2010. My only goal when I made these was a craving for crunchy chocolate chip cookies. My kids ate them, loved them, and couldn't stop eating them. 
Literally, at the time I was baking them, I was observing the eating behavior of my teenagers. My skinny petite daughter loves almost everything crunch in the snack category. When the bag opens, it only closes in the trash can. I wondered if the same could be accomplished with a cookie. A chip style cookie. I immediately googled everything and anything regarding cookie chips, thin crunchy cookie snacks, sweet crunchy snacks. There was nothing at the time.

Sarah Velasco: What is your vision behind the brand?
Joanne Adirim: To make cookie chips the leader in sweet all natural snacking.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about the ingredients you use? 
Joanne Adirim: Our ingredients for the crunchy cookie chips include cage free eggs, hormone free butter, pure cane sugar, real bourbon vanilla extract, fine chocolates, all natural peanut butter, etc. Any Hannahmax branded product will only use simple clean ingredients. 

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about the different products you have?
Joanne Adirim: On the perishable side of our business we make mousse cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, mini desserts, individual desserts, coffee cakes, donut muffins, bars, brownies, cookies. On the crunchy cookie chip side we currently have 5 flavors- chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, original brown sugar, sea salted peanut butter and dark chocolate chocolate chip. More flavors and varieties on the way. 

Sarah Velasco: What are your best sellers?
Joanne Adirim: Cookie chips, donut muffins, mini cupcakes, red velvet cake, tiramisu cake, lemoncello layer cake, molten chocolate cakes etc. 

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers purchase HannahMax Snacks? 
Joanne Adirim: Cookie chips are available at major retailers including safeway (Vons/ Pavillons), The Fresh Market, Fairway Markets, Gelson's, Bristol Farms, Stater Bro's, Whole Foods, Roche Bros, Piggly Wiggly, ABC Stores, Earthfare. Check our website locator for more locations.