Growing up in New Orleans tends to cultivate a love of food while you are young and perhaps, still too little to reach the stovetop. It began that way for Glynis Albright before she turned 10. She cooked and baked in the kitchen with her great grandmother, grandmother and mother, seeing how what they made pleased everyone. “The whole point was the joy that came from doing these things in the kitchen,” says the creator and owner of Albright Cuisine, Just Sweet Enough and Cookie Dots.
No Toy Stove
It is no wonder then that this culinary mastermind dreamed of getting an Easy Bake Oven when she was a little girl. “I wanted one so badly, but my father, he wouldn’t allow it. He said, ‘Nope. You’re not getting an Easy Bake Oven.’ I thought he was being so mean.” As it turns out, her dad figured she did not need a toy stove she would play with occasionally and discard if she could learn to cook on a real stove and gain a talent that would last a lifetime.
Albright’s family moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles when she was 10 years old. She started selling muffins and slices of cake to people in her Central LA neighborhood, using her weekly allowance to pay for the Jiffy cake mixes and icings she turned into tasty desserts. It wasn’t long before people started hiring her to make cakes for their kids. “It was just a fun thing to do for the excitement of people eating my food and making that extra money,” Albright says.
Cooking on a Budget
Surprisingly, the wife of celebrated jazz artist Gerald Albright never intended to go into the food business as a career. The UCLA graduate always wanted to become a doctor. While her class studies revolved around math, biology, chemistry and other sciences, Albright still devoted time to cooking for others. Her apartment became the go-to place for study sessions around waffles, crepes or pancakes. Albright’s income from a part-time job determined whether the side dishes would be scrambled eggs and turkey bacon, fried chicken or shrimp. “In college, you’re on a tight budget, so that’s what I would prepare, especially when my girlfriends would come over.”
When Albright later married the sweetheart she met at age 13, musicians and other creative artists made her kitchen a gathering place for good food and conversation. “People would come to our home when Gerald was a struggling musician. He would get off from a gig late at night. They would come to our apartment and I would make waffles for the guys,” says Albright. “I had a cute little round Sunbeam waffle iron. I must have gone through five or six of those things. I would burn them out.”
Life is Sweet
In the 1990s, life took a traumatic turn for Albright. A diagnosis of a rare blood disease rocked her world. Ultimately, her battle with leukemia inspired the creation of her first company, Just Sweet Enough. “From 1994 to 1996 when I was going through the real storm with my illness, I began to create all these treats,” Albright explains. “All that chemistry, biology, psychology, epidemiology and math came in handy because I began to create food to help in my healing process.”
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The president and CEO of Just Sweet Enough holds a Ph.D. in Natural Health/Food Science. She used it to spearhead the research and development of low sugar, low fat and low salt desserts made without artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors or preservatives. Even before she earned her doctorate, Albright asked doctors and other health professionals what foods should people with certain illnesses and diseases eat or eliminate from their diets. “I began to create foods for people who were like me. Every time I went to the cancer center, I would leave a little plate with samples. After a while, people were asking where is the cake lady?”
The popularity of her pound cakes, cookies and pies attracted the attention of her first celebrity client for Just Sweet Enough treats, former NBA star Magic Johnson. He and other athletes wanting healthier options bought her products. By 2001, Albright had opened two locations for Just Sweet Enough, a production kitchen and a gourmet shop. “Just Sweet Enough Gourmet Shop became a place where everyone would drop by if they were going through anything in their lives,” Albright says. “The cancer center was five minutes away. Some people would come straight from chemo to my shop and they would sit, and I would feed them.”
From the Sky or Ground
The company became part of her ministry and a way to help heal herself and others through healthy desserts packed with nutrients. The only ingredients that go into Just Sweet Enough products sold online are those that come from the sky or grow in the ground. “Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Those are the main ingredients that flavor Just Sweet Enough products,” Albright says.
She gets many of her ingredients from an organic farm. Some of the fruits and vegetables are then dehydrated and produced in a powder form. Albright uses similar ingredients for the Cookie Dots she created in 2003. Her second company came about as a result of a conversation with a well-known Hollywood weight-loss surgeon, Dr. Mathias Fobi. He wanted small, low sugar desserts for his patients that had texture, flavor and nutrients. “The whole point is to use the nutrients from what God has created for us to heal. Every fruit, vegetable, herb and spice has a health element attached to it.”
Albright’s research and test kitchen experiments not only help determine what her clients need but also ensure that the treats she makes by hand taste delicious. “A cake may have zucchini, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli in it, but by the time I get done with it, it may end up tasting like a Red Velvet cake, one of your favorites,” she says. “That’s where the chemistry comes in along with my passion and excitement to create something you really enjoy.”
Chicken & Waffles Time
So much enjoyment has come out of Albright’s kitchen that friends began calling her “America’s Waffle Queen,” a title she has officially trademarked as her own. After she and Gerald moved to Colorado, their long list of family, friends and colleagues made it a point to stop by Castle Pines Village to dine on her fried chicken and waffles. “Friends would change up their tour schedules to make sure that the tour bus would come through Castle Rock. All I needed was a headcount,” says Albright.
The list of celebrities, politicians and other famous people who have eaten with the Albrights is long, including Dave Koz, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, D. L. Hughley and former president Bill Clinton to name a few.
Finally, in 2017 Albright did what so many of her friends had urged her to do. She made her waffle and poultry coating mixes available online. Her newest company, Albright Cuisine manufactures thousands of boxes to be sold nationwide. “What you receive in the box is exactly what you’d receive if you came to my home. My waffles are crispy, light and melt in your mouth. People tell me it’s like eating air.”
This year Albright rebranded her products with a new website, new labeling and new marketing of Glynis’ Kitchen. The manufactured products, Glynis’ Kitchen Waffle Mix and the kosher Glynis’ Kitchen All Purpose Coating Mix, are available at glyniskitchen.com along with Just Sweet Enough pound cakes, Cookie Dots and Doggie Cookie Dots. The 35 flavors of pound cake include Sweet Potato and they change monthly. The Cookie Dots come in more than 25 flavors, and the ones for your doggies can also be consumed by humans.
Albright only ships on Mondays so that customers get their waffle and coating mix packages within three to five days. She recommends they be refrigerated after opening because they contain no preservatives. Albright asks that people be patient when ordering her handmade desserts. Orders placed for Just Sweet Enough and Cookie Dots one month will be received the following month because she might be on a cruise or traveling.
As a matter of fact, Albright has made a three and a half year commitment to travel across the U.S. and abroad for pop-up events and speaking engagements. She talks with guests about how she overcame a life-threatening disease with prayer, family, friends and lifestyle changes. Samples of her waffles, chicken and other products are also served to the guests.
Albright is excited about traveling the world, sharing her products and introducing new creations to customers. She is also targeting cruise lines and quality hotels for her manufactured mixes because they serve breakfast every day. “We have a new product, Glynis’ Kitchen Scratch Mix. That scratch mix will make everything from pie crust to bread to muffins to lava cake in a mug. It’s going to be that flour mix that you pick up to do everything.” A caramel spice syrup, beignet mix and more new products are on the way.
Work Smarter, Not Longer
You can be sure that Glynis’ husband Gerald, son Brandon and daughter Selina will have tasted whatever new treats come out of her kitchen. They are her #1 taste testers. Brandon owns Snow Desert Productions and shoots videos and takes photos for his mom’s businesses. Selina has performed as a vocalist with her own band and wrote the jingle she sings for an “Inside Glynis’ Kitchen” video created by Albright’s adopted niece, Breanna Washington.
With so much happening with Glynis’ Kitchen, Albright is trying to find time to finish a book of memories about the people who taught her to love food as well as family recipes. “It’s full of love stories, and it starts from my great grandmother all the way up to when I started cooking for my kids. Gumbo will be in there, mac and cheese, dressing, salmon cakes, red beans and rice, and spaghetti and meatballs,” Albright says.
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Besides that, she continues to give back through the nonprofit she founded, Making Advancements toward Nutritional Empowerment or M.A.N.E. The organization helps women and men rebuild their self-esteem and improve their physical appearance after hair loss from illnesses or medications.
Albright recognizes her own health has to remain a priority as she and Gerald explore ways to work smarter, not harder so they can enjoy life to the fullest. “I pray every day, ‘God help me to help others without depleting myself.’ We as women tend to do that. We are the superheroes. We are the caregivers.”
Go to the Glynis’ Kitchen website to order products or catch up on the latest happenings with the Albright family. Look for Albright Cuisine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates, recipes and more.