Chris Nacion is a full-time University of Arizona student who runs Bake Box out of his kitchen.

By day, Chris Nacion is sitting in a classroom at the University of Arizona, studying hard to earn a degree in biology and business.

But when Nacion comes home, he trades his backpack for a chef’s hat, whipping up delicious cookies inspired by his Asian background.

Nacion opened his home bakery, Bake Box, last year, bringing his science skills to the kitchen to create the perfect cookie.

“I'm just a sophomore here at college, I'm in my fourth semester right now,” Nacion said. “It has been really busy and I do have to manage my time really well. But I think I've been doing a really good job at it.”

Nacion, who is originally from Chicago, has always loved baking, especially with his mom. But his idea for starting his own business came when he traveled more than a thousand miles away from home to attend school.

Last year, Nacion was part of the University of Arizona club FASA, the Filipino American Student Association. At one of their final events, he was asked to bake cupcakes. About 300 cupcakes later, Nacion realized he could make a business out of his lifelong passion.

In March 2023, Nacion officially launched Bake Box and started taking custom orders, making aesthetically-pleasing strawberry cheesecake and ube-flavored cupcakes. Over the summer, Nacion decided to put himself out there more in hopes of taking off.

After all the hard work he put into his business, he started to attend farmers markets at the end of September and advertised his business more, shifting his baking talents to cookies.

NYC-style cookies are a thicker cookie typically crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

“My first market was at the St. Philip's Plaza Market, north of the university,” Nacion said. “It definitely was really scary. I remember the manager, Cindy, was talking to me and she was like, wow, you just went straight into like the pretty hefty, popular market.”

Drawing inspiration from Levain Bakery, a bakery in Chicago where Nacion used to visit, he decided to shift gears toward cookies, specifically New York City-style ones.

Nacion describes a New York City-style cookie as a “really thick” cookie that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They also tend to have a lot of toppings, which help the massive cookies hold their shape.

At Bake Box, Nacion said his NYC cookies are around five ounces and come in various flavors, some a nod to his Asian heritage. Even though it took a while to master the perfect NYC recipe, Nacion is able to get that same crispy and chewy texture from his home kitchen.

“I have worked with some bakeries in the past and they have convection ovens, but being a home baker, I don't have the luxury of having all those different types of equipment,” Nacion said. “So I had to actually, like, alter the recipes myself and also how I use the different equipment, like the oven, in order to get it right. It was definitely a long, long process, but I think I mastered it.”

Currently, Nacion has three NYC cookie flavors: Lotus Biscoff, matcha-damia and chocolate chip walnut. The Biscoff flavor has a Lotus-brand biscuit on top of the cookie as well as inside. It is also topped with a crunchy Biscoff royal icing.

The matcha-damia consists of white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, topped with a matcha-white chocolate icing and culinary-grade matcha powder.

Bake Box offers four flavors of madeleines, which are Nacion’s favorite to make.

Lastly, the chocolate chip walnut cookies are exactly what they sound like: dark and milk chocolate chips combined with roasted chopped walnuts.

Along with the NYC cookies, Nacion also offers madeleines, a French-style small sponge cake that comes in a shell-like shape.  raspberry with a raspberry-white chocolate shell, black sesame with a white chocolate shell and sesame seeds, matcha with a matcha-white chocolate shell, and yuzu mandarine with royal icing and a candied mandarine are the flavors you can indulge in.

“My favorite item to make is, weirdly enough, my madeleines, which are pretty new to the menu,” Nacion said. “They are really forgiving, which a lot of people were actually surprised that it's a really forgiving recipe, because usually they think that it's going to be a harder thing to make because it's a French thing.”

Finally, Nacion makes an ube cookie that is the prettiest shade of purple. His ube cookies tend to be the most popular among customers.

Since he’s also a full-time student, Nacion typically attends markets on the weekends, using the entire previous day to make all his Instagram-worthy treats. He plans on attending the Moe Moe Pop-Up on Feb. 11 as well at the #ThisIsTucson's Tucson Together market on Feb. 24.

Bake Box’s ube cookies are the most popular among customers.

In the future, Nacion hopes to attend culinary school, more specifically a pastry school. But for now, Nacion continues to bring east coast treats to Southern Arizona. Like his Instagram says, baking is a science too!

“Not only are they delicious, but I really love to incorporate a bunch of Asian cultural styles into my food you really won't get that anywhere else,” Nacion said. “Plus, you're supporting a student.”

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Jamie Donnelly is the food writer for #ThisIsTucson. Contact her via e-mail at