A few weeks ago, Bisera Urdarevik, owner of Lush Gourmet Foods, contacted me wondering if I’d like to review her nuts. With flavors like hot curry and coffee I was intrigued. After tasting them, I was not disappointed.
The nuts were sweet as well as savory, and not too overpowering at all. So I decided to find out a bit more. Bisera was happy to answer the following questions:
Who are you?
I was born in Toronto, Ontario a few months after my parents emigrated there from Macedonia. Toronto was our home for the majority of my childhood, but we then moved to Kalamazoo because my mom was given a job opportunity. My family and I moved a few more times, but ultimately came back to the Kalamazoo area where I finished my last two years at Portage Northern. Upon graduation, I moved to Chicago where I studied at Kendall College and finished two degrees: Associates in Baking & Pastry and a Bachelor of Arts in Food & Beverage Management. I just graduated from the latter a few weeks ago.
Say a little about your company.
The idea of Lush Gourmet Foods started to develop in my first year of college with my parents there to support, although I didn’t start fully diving into the business until my second year. That is when I started doing product development (with my mom by my side) and playing around with different flavors. Our first product is Lush Nuts, which are sweetly coated spiced nuts (peanuts to begin with) handcrafted without the use of any preservatives or artificial flavors. During that second and third year, all of the fine details such as logos, packaging, suppliers and such were smoothed out and I was finally ready to start selling! I came back to Kalamazoo during my fourth year of college to do an internship and to fully dedicate myself to building Lush Gourmet Foods. Coming back to Kalamazoo was a vital part of growing the business because of the vast support for a local product and the ability to grow at a more accelerated pace.
How long have you been in business?
The company was established in March of 2010, but Lush Nuts weren’t on the market until January of this year. I have slowly been expanding in the Kalamazoo market and recently started to sell in the Lansing and Grand Rapids areas.
Where are you located?
We don’t have an actual storefront, but our facilities are inKalamazoo.
Why did you get started? Why is your product simply the best?
Growing up I always found myself in the kitchen helping my mom and grandmother make anything I could get my hands on, but also loved the idea of developing my own business. The two naturally came together. Throughout my adolescent and teenage years, my mom had always made these peanuts whenever we had friends and family over; the nuts were at every social gathering in our house and everyone would flock to them. Many of our family friends would ask for the recipe or if they could buy some, but my parents never pursued this. With such a great interest, I knew there was something there. I used the skills developed in my pastry classes at school to build unique and different flavor profiles and after many, many batches of these nuts, the end result were the five flavors you find today: Original, Salt & Pepper, Cinnamon Spice, Hot Curry, and Coffee. I was also dedicated to make the product with all-natural ingredients and to never use any preservatives or artificial flavors.
What makes Lush Nuts simply the best is the fact that when you put some in your mouth you get a great crunch, but as you continue to munch on them, they almost melt in your mouth. Lush nuts also come in unique flavors and we’re always looking to bring in new ones! My nuts are handcrafted in small batches and only the best nuts are packaged for customers. They are hand sifted and only the ones perfectly coated are used. The nuts also have unique uses such as sprinkling them over ice cream for a great crunch (coffee flavor and vanilla ice cream is my favorite), sprinkled over your favorite salad, or paired with a great beer or wine (I like the Salt & Pepper with Bell’s Oberon or Two Harted Ale). I like to put them out in a bowl if I have friends over as well (perfect for entertaining).
How can people get their hands on your product?
I am happy to say that the new Lush Gourmet Foods website has just launched and features an online storefront! Our gift boxes are great to gift someone on any occasion, or to simply gift yourself. Customers can even write a personal message, which we will print out on a card and include it in the package.
Aside from the online storefront, Lush Nuts can be found in several shops in the Kalamazoo area. Some are: Sawall Heath Foods, Natural Health Center, Tempo Vino, Salut Fine Wine & Spirits, and The Cheese Lady. Lansingarea: Foods for Living and Lansing City Market.
Good luck in your business, Bisera! You have a tasty product, and I hope my readers will give them a try.