Baking for Bruno

Bruno Mars to get some Maui sweetness backstage at Aloha Stadium concerts

Award-winning singer-songwriter Bruno Mars will have The Maui Cookie Lady cookies in his green room at the Aloha Stadium on Oahu. His first of three consecutive concerts was Thursday night. The Maui Cookie Lady photo

Bruno Mars may be chowing down on some Maui-baked goodness as the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter performs during his sold-out concerts at Aloha Stadium.

On Wednesday, the Makawao-based Maui Cookie Lady sent more than five dozen cookies to Oahu, destined for the Hawaii performing star’s green room. Mars held his first concert Thursday night, with two more scheduled on Saturday and Sunday on his 24K Magic World Tour.

“For me, I’m just like what a phenomenal little tiny door to open,” said Mitzi Toro, the Maui Cookie Lady herself.

Not only is Toro jazzed about Mars possibly eating her cookies, but now Live Nation Entertainment, Mars’ concert promoter, “knows we exist.”

Live Nation Entertainment is also known as the world’s largest concert promoter.

Mitzi Toro

“This could open the door for more names in the industry for other concerts,” said Toro, a former teacher and counselor at Kalama Intermediate School.

The cookies are decorated with edible images of Mars and Live Nation.

Months ago, Toro sent out an inquiry to the promoters to see if her cookies could make it backstage with Mars.

In general, she said it is a competitive process to get her cookies in because many others try to place their products with celebrities.

She had just about given up on the idea, not hearing back from Mars’ promotions people and knowing the concerts were in less than a week.

But, on Tuesday, she got an email from Los Angeles granting her request.

“I almost fainted,” Toro said. “I thought I was going to fall off the chair,” she later added. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Thankfully, Toro had prepared her edible rock star images to place atop of her cookies in advance.

Images of Mars and promotion company Live Nation are made out of ingredients such as rice wafer paper and edible ink, which are placed on an edible backing.

The delicate process takes a few weeks, Toro said. “I got them ready. It really worked out this time,” she said, noting that in the past, some requests to have cookies backstage were denied.

The varieties of cookies she sent to Oahu include the butter rum triple chunker, pineapple-lychee-passion with hibiscus flowers and lemon chocolate, along with Maui mango with pineapple and coconut.

And if Mars takes a bite, it won’t be the first celebrity to taste the chunky cookie.

Toro has taken her goods to celebrities performing at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, including Bill Maher, Diana Ross and Ludacris. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has also received the Maui cookies and took to social media to rave about them. Ludacris, too.

The celebrities may follow The Maui Cookie Lady on social media.

And, in turn, the celebrities’ followers could turn into potential customers, Toro noted.

Toro has been featured on “Good Morning America.” She began selling her cookies at the ritzy Saks Fifth Avenue department store in Waikiki in 2017.

Toro’s business began in 2013 when she sold her chunky cookies at Wailuku’s First Friday events. It was a fundraiser for Maui Memorial Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit nurses, who took care of her late father, Werner Kraensel.

They were a hit. And Toro worked on developing her business and began distributing the cookies to a few select hotels and locations. She left her school job in 2016 to immerse herself in her budding cookie empire.

And it paid off.

Aside from garnering publicity, her cookie orders have been stacking up. Her online site is back ordered until early next year.

And, at Saks Fifth Avenue, the cookies are selling out before they arrive at the store.

The cookies are still available at Maui Pack and Ship in Kahului.

While having waiting lists and back orders may be a “good problem” to have, Toro said she does not want to have customers waiting for months.

She has more than doubled her baking and production staff, which hovered around four to five last year and has grown to the current nine. She plans on hiring two more workers.

Toro is on the lookout for a larger manufacturing space with a warehouse because she has outgrown her facility in Makawao.

“We would move tomorrow if we can,” she said.

Toro is so intent on finding a space that she made the plea: “They get free cookies for a year, if they rent me a space.”

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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