Deborah Hunter is the founder of Cooking with Honey and Friends, becoming known as the “Cookie Lady” during the brunt of the pandemic.
Her cookbook titled My Delicious Mississippi Life is one of seven published books by Hunter’s. Another popular title is The Little Girl in the Pretty Red Dress, a children’s book dedicated to her granddaughter.
Her creative talents don’t stop there. She is also a painter and gearing up for a new coffee brand and podcast. As a self-taught entrepreneur, she lives by the philosophy of exploring your curiosities and being open to new opportunities. But, none of this success would have happened without a pivotal prayer in the middle of her kitchen.
It all started in 2011 when Hunter bought a home with a kitchen fit for a chef, but she wasn’t one. She wasn’t comfortable boiling water until she decided that needed to change.
“I raised my hands, closed my eyes, and asked the Holy Spirit to give me the gift of cooking.” Hunter chuckled. The following day, she put her faith into action, purchased a Swan’s Down pound cake mix, and followed the instructions on the back. With the cake still warm out of the oven, she rushed to share her success with her mother. Hunter’s mom was skeptical of her new baking skills and proclaimed, “Don’t you lie to me! If you made this cake, do it again!”
Hunter gladly returned to her kitchen to recreate the pound cake and hasn’t slowed down cooking yet. She expanded past desserts to making weekend meals for her family. “If I told my family lunch was at noon, they would show up at 10:30 am to see if it was my cooking,” said Hunter. Her family eventually realized she had a culinary knack, and a cousin encouraged her to start a Facebook page to share recipes. That caught the attention of Comcast, and she soon began hosting a cooking show for two years. Then one day, Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) called about a job interview.
Interestingly enough, Hunter didn’t apply for a job at MPB. The receptionist shared that someone had come in and applied for her. That started the run of Cooking with Honey and Friends, the radio show. Every Monday for several years, Hunter would bring in delicious food and chat it up with Mississippi. “Food is truly bipartisan,” declares Hunter. Especially in the South, people from all walks of life can sit down and find agreement over a delicious meal. And when the world stopped because of a global pandemic, people kept eating, and Hunter kept serving signature treats.
Looking for a way to pay the bills and stay connected to the community, Hunter got in the kitchen and out came with cookies – a lot of them! Flavors like double chocolate chip, white chocolate pecan, pumpkin pie, and lemon cheesecake cookies helped her and families weather the storm of lockdowns and uncertainty by offering a delicious break from the discouraging times. Hunter became known as the “Cookie Lady,” but she is still so much more.
Coffee and Conversations with Deborah Hunter, the podcast, will release summer 2022, along with Dirty Mississippi’s coffee brand. Hunter is also exploring her love of painting and creating a space for meaningful conversations. “I hope to inspire people to dream a little bit, love a little harder, and laugh along the way,” Hunter said.
Today, the kitchen is still Hunter’s safe place to destress and whip up flavorful creations to feed her family and Mississippi. Keep a lookout for Deborah Hunter. She refuses to limit her talents and will continue to lean into new opportunities.