APRIL/MAY 2017

Zest! Specializes in Culinary Adventures, Products

   

By Stacey McArthur

Zest!, a gourmet retailer in Lititz, Pa., is the go-to place for cooking classes.

Sharon and Jim Landis purchased Zest! in 2012 and have completely remodeled the store. They designed a kitchen where they host a variety of cooking classes throughout the year, including classes for children.

The store's cooking classes and product selection are influenced by the couple's travels — throughout France, Italy and Napa Valley. Zest! recently sponsored a trip to Italy with its Italian cooking instructor. "We had three cooking classes in Sicily, toured a sheep farm and winery," Sharon Landis says.

Eight customers traveled with the couple and their employees. A tour guide also accompanied the group. "People are always interested in Italian cooking," she explains. "Italy is such a beautiful country, and so many people just love the food."

Sushi, Thai and Italian cooking classes are popular at Zest!

That's one reason, Landis adds, that the Italian cooking classes at the store fill up quicker than others. "We all grew up with it. From our earliest ages, we have been eating pizza and spaghetti," she says. "Italian food is a comfort food for all of us and part of the fabric of American life."

International Classes
In addition, Landis is seeing other international cooking classes take off. "We just had a Thai class and that was sold out," she says. She's also considering starting a sushi class because many customers have been requesting one.

"Customers like culinary adventure, which is a theme at our store. We sell 80 herbs and spices from around the world, cookbooks and gadget and tools and classes that enhance our customers' next culinary adventure," she says.

Another hot class is one in vegetable spiraling. Zest! sells the Paderno Spiralizer and another spiralizer from Oxo. "People are really interested in it," she says. "A lot of people just want to eat more vegetables and cut out carbs."

Product Selection
During these classes, customers receive a 10 percent discount on all products in the store and a 20 percent discount on the e-cloth product line.

Zest! carries items from more than 100 vendors, all hand-selected and tested by Landis. The store carries specialty foods, gourmet tools and gadgets, herbs and spices and fine linens. Zest! offers a limited inventory of specialty food items and culinary tools for sale on its website.

Zest!'s customers are also interested in stocking their kitchen with green housewares. "They love our GreenPan, which is a ceramic healthy cooking pan. Customers are really into eating healthy," she explains. "They not only look at foods and ingredients, but what they use for cooking. They don't seem to want plastic anymore. They want products that are good for them."

Zest!'s customers are looking for cleaners that are good for them and the planet. E-cloth, a microfiber cloth made from polyester and nylon, has wowed Landis and her staff. "I liked that it was chemical-free and still removed 99 percent of bacteria. I thought that was awesome," says Landis. "All our employees use them and love them, too. It makes a difference when we can tell our customers that we use products at home and explain exactly how they work." Thanks to Landis' and her staff's enthusiasm, e-cloth quickly became the No. 1 seller.