Chris Montagna has enjoyed cooking and baking his entire life, and always wanted to turn that enjoyment into a profession.
Now, with the help of his friend Nick Yuhas, the two Pittston Area graduates are turning Montagna’s dream into a reality with their vegan cookie business, Radiant Recipes.
Montagna, of Pittston, got the idea for vegan cookies from trying different ones while traveling with his girlfiend.
“My girlfriend and I have been vegans and vegetarians for years,” he said. “We like to travel and try different things whereever we go and a lot of the vegan cookies out there weren’t good and were expensive.”
Montagna decided to make his own vegan cookies, and said all he did was swap out regular ingredients — such as milk, eggs and butter — with different oil blends and substitutes.
“I just took the recipes, made them vegan and they were delicious,” he said. “You’d never know they were vegan.”
From there, Yuhas and Montagna talked about going into business together to bake and sell the cookies.
The process started in 2016 when the two purchased the domain name to their website and were able to find a place to manufacture their product.
“It was about a year and three months until we got started,” said Yuhas, of Duryea. “We started talking about it and I bought the website domain in 2016. That was the first step and that was how we knew we had a solid name. From there, we started developing the packaging.”
The cookies are made at the Culinary Technology Transfer Center in Carbondale where Yuhas said the duo rent space when they bake cookies.
“When someone orders, we plan time to go up there and bake an order for them and, if businesses are looking to stock our product, we’ll go and bake for them,” He said. “Once or twice a week we’ll go up, usually, but when we’re busier, we go up more.”
Radiant Recipes has been selling its product since September but because the company is so young, its produces are only sold, as of now, in Zummo’s Cafe and Eden, a Vegan Cafe, both located in Scranton.
Most of the product is sold online at www.radiant-recipes.com.
“We’d love to get in a lot of different coffee shops,” Yuhas said. “Cafes are a good spot because they go great with coffee. We went around to, maybe, 15 different stores and got into two. I think when you’re starting out, you have no brand recognition, so they’re a little hesitant.”
While they dedicate a lot of time to their vegan cookies, Yuhas and Montagna both work jobs outside of the business.
Yuhas works in the IT department with the Scranton Times-Tribune and Montagna works as a waiter at Ruby Tuesday in Moosic.
Montagna has been baking since he was 12 and working in restaurants since he was 16. The most important lesson he’s learned from his time in the food industry is that consistency is key, noting food may taste different when ordered a second time.
“I notice the biggest problem with restaurants and businesses with food is the consistency in food and quality,” he said. “I took those lessons and, when we started this business, we said everything has to be the same with what we do.”
Montagna hopes to get involved in local farmers markets next year, particularly in Wilkes-Barre and Dallas where there are college students, saying they’re the ones he knows would be willing to try the product.
Both have big plans for Radiant Recipes, and hope to see it take off so they make the business their full-time occupations.
“It’s all about getting our product out there and getting people to try it,” Montagna said. “We want people to try and enjoy it.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher