Chunk Cookies Leeds: Meet the couple behind the cookie business that students can't get enough of

A couple who founded a vegan cookie business during lockdown have become a firm hit with Leeds’ student community.
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Amy Benett was just 20 when she started Chunk Cookies with her partner Diego Espinoza, who had moved from Australia to live in her family home during the first lockdown.

“It was never really planned,” Amy, now 23, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

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“Diego decided to leave Australia at the last minute and got the last flight to the UK. Both of us were stuck at my mum’s in the Lincolnshire countryside for about four months.

Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan GawthorpeVegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home. 31st August 2022. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

“My mum is vegan and there was nothing for her, no sweet treats or good options. They were all sub-par or really expensive.

“So we started baking cookies for her at home and then started selling them to friends.”

Amy was looking for a job at the time and after rave reviews from her friends, she and Diego decided to bring their idea back to Leeds, where she had been studying.

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From their basement bedroom of a shared house in Hyde Park, they batched up their baked treats to deliver to students.

Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan GawthorpeVegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home. 31st August 2022. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It took off without us realising,” Amy said.

“It was so popular with students because everyone was stuck inside. I’d send Diego out on his bicycle to deliver across Hyde Park.”

Chunk Cookies can now be found in cafes, bakeries and street food markets across the North, as well as at weddings and private events.

Customers can also order their cookie fix online, and Amy had a ‘pinch me’ moment when social media megastar Olivia Neill posted a video talking about her treats.

Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan GawthorpeVegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home.
31st  August 2022.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Vegan cookie business Chunk Cookies, run by Amy Bennett and Diego Espinoza from their Burley home. 31st August 2022. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Amy firmly believes that vegan food and sustainable choices can taste better than animal alternatives.

She added: “We try to do something for everybody - and you wouldn’t realise it’s vegan.

“We use really simple, good quality ingredients. Most of the fillings and toppings we make ourselves at home.

“It’s just good stuff and you know what you’re getting.”

The New-York style cookies include Biscoff, chocolate orange and s’mores, as well as their showstopper 1kg cookie for £32.

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Amy and Diego have just moved home and are building their very own bakery, where customers will be able to pick-up their orders.

“The feedback has been amazing,” Amy said.

“A huge part of Chunk and what we do is the people we do it for. We have the same people order every week and people will travel an hour to come and see us at markets.

“Especially at the moment, it’s difficult to have a business and it’s so easy to second guess yourself.

“But every time we get a bit of positive feedback, it means the world.”

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Diego has now got a full-time job as a physio, leaving Amy to run the business.

But he still offers a helping hand and the pair have dreams of opening a cafe and arts space in Hyde Park, geared towards the student community.

Amy added: “I started the business when I was 20 and I’ve learnt so much, it’s the best experience you can have and teaches you so much about people and yourself.

“It’s so rewarding getting to do something you love every single day.”