Hello! I'm Luciana Gencarelli (Contuzzi), founder of zest. My passion for food stems from my Italian roots - making mass amounts of jarred tomato sauce each August and gallons of wine each September. My entrepreneur spirit was apparent at a young age, too! When I was about 7 years old, I would call my younger sister into my room while my mom was making dinner and my dad was at work. I would close the door, sprawl my hands in the air and announce "ROOOOOM SALE!" I would sell her random items and make her use her piggy bank change to pay me, even though she could've clearly used them without a fee... and she was only four!
I graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Information Technology Management in December 2013. After many successful internships and job offers, but not enough challenge, I knew entrepreneurship was my calling. The idea for zest started with a notebook on a plane ride home from Italy after graduating a semester early and quitting my first full time job against many people's direction after just six months. The basis for zest roots from all the holistic powers food has in generating energy and preventing disease. My goal is to create delicious and nutritious meals, snacks and desserts that are free of gluten and dairy and FULL of taste for everyone to enjoy and to feel great doing so.
In September 2014, I built my website and zest was an online business based out of a commercial kitchen. I ordered 400 bananas for my first street fair and used about 30. There was much to learn! I educated myself on the food industry at several jobs and spent countless hours perfecting recipes and meal prepping for clients after work. Fast forward to March 2017 and the first storefront for zest opened in my hometown, Fairfield, NJ. The true test... a small Italian town, raised on pasta and pizza, loves zest!
In June 2018, my then boyfriend, now husband, TJ, joined zest full time. TJ brought with him over 10 years of family bakery experience, creative ideas and extremely positive energy! The family like, happy environment is apparent upon walking in. You will walk in to find us and our loyal and passionate employees smiling, surrounded by bright green walls with old school Italian pictures on them. We love to serve you! Let's join together and enjoy delicious and nutritious food while realizing all the great benefits it has to offer.