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My Oulu: Zestii Kitchen is a business opportunity for home cooks: pop up restaurant opens at Lumo light festival

17.11.2021

Sustainable and locally sourced food combined with employment opportunities for immigrants - Zestii Kitchen is more than just a new food delivery service. Pop up restaurant that opens at Lumo light festival on Friday serves a taste of Japanese, Cantonese and Filipino cuisines, prepared by passionate home cooks.

Zestii was founded by two international immigrants to Oulu who wanted to bring people together through food.

“Zestii Kitchen started as a catering business delivering lunch boxes to business hubs, but soon we found out that it could be so much more”, says Holly Conolly, the founder of Zestii.

With her business partner Minae Tani LaFleur, they saw the potential of a digital marketplace connecting home cooks and customers two years ago. They now run a growing business in both Oulu and Helsinki providing opportunities for home cooks to become entrepreneurs and customers to taste some delicious international home cooked food.

“Based on our own experiences as an immigrant, we have a deep understanding of all the usual problems people face when trying to settle in a foreign society. Language barriers, finding a job, finding your own social networks takes time and can be sometimes overwhelming. By setting up the digital marketplace for home cooks, we bring people together through food and we connect expats with locals”, Conolly explains.

Sustainability is the key

Delicious food is important to Zestii Kitchen entrepreneurs, but they are also passionate about ensuring the sustainability of their business.

“I worked in corporate sustainability before, when we lived in London. Of course the subject is close to my heart. We pay a lot of attention to our packaging which is either compostable or reusable. We also encourage our cooks to use sustainable, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients when possible”, Conolly adds.

Market place and community

Zestii is not only a market place for home cooks and food enthusiastic clients. It is a growing community of expats, who will get easy access to integration. Zestii provides expats a network of like minded peers, income opportunities and support to overcome the barriers to become an entrepreneur.

“We help our cooks to obtain their hygiene pass and provide the support they need to operate as a home cook. Cooks only have to focus on the business itself - to make delicious food that can’t be found in restaurants”, Conolly laughs.

Zestii pop up restaurant opens at Lumo light festival

Zestii pop up restaurant will take pre orders of dishes until Thursday 10 am through their website. Pop up restaurant will be open on Friday 19th from 6 pm onwards at Pure Maku restaurant (Pakkahuoneenkatu 5). There will also be some tasting dishes for purchase for those who did not pre order dishes.

 “Pure Maku is our partner during the Lumo light festival. Ramen noodle restaurant is also run by expats and we are able to use their kitchen, since the restaurant is not open during the evenings. That is sustainable and cost efficient for both of us. This kind of collaboration model could work also with other restaurant venues”, Conolly considers.

 More about Zestii Kitchen and pre orders from here. 

Minae Tani LaFleur (left) and Holly Conolly are running Zestii Kitchen. Company provide a market place for home cooks to meet their clients, but Zestii is more than just another food delivery service. Pic: Zestii

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