People cook and eat to live. Rija, however, lives to cook for others and feeds on the appreciation she receives on her haute cuisine.
Rija is a young entrepreneur who recently started her homemade food supply venture.
Within months, she has created a strong fans following and is getting raging reviews for her spice bites .
“Received my first order from Zesty Bites yesterday, I’m sure it was the biggest portion of Lasagna served anywhere in Lahore. Way too loaded and tasted yum Masha Allah. Queen of club sandwiches were really good too I feel they were too stuffed too. Less filling would do fine with them as I felt filled after half of it. Lastly, the Cupcakes were perfectly moist and soft. Definitely ordering again”.
Such encouraging words keep Rija in the swim, who has never been to any cuisine school for training.
She knew from her childhood that her heart is in food. Her first school was her own kitchen, and the first (and the last) inspiration was her mother.
“My mama’s cooking is so much loved in our family cox, Maa k hath me jaadu hai so, I was inspired by her and I loved cooking along with eating from a very young age,” she smiles.
Rija says she soon found that talent for cooking and baking is in her genes.
“When I cook something and people appreciate it, it drives me to cook more.”
Rija has developed her own food ethics and recipes. She will cook only those dishes, which she thinks can be done well.
“I’ve not tried cooking Haleem and Nihari. My mother is the only one who can do justice with these dishes.”
Her menu list is not too long. She offers a lot of things but most of the people like to order Lasagna, sandwich, zinger burger and alfredo pasta. Chocolate cake and cupcakes have become people's favourite these days.
She basically likes fast food and can make anything but her signature foods are pasta, burgers and sandwiches.
She is a pizza lover so her food court has Pizza cake in the special menu.
What about cakes?
“I can make any type of cake but Wafers and Caramel cakes are considered to be my best.”
Homemade food industry has marked its footprints in Lahore for the last three or four years, and several outlets have created a good sizeable cliental in Lahore.
Rija’s business is called Zesty Bites .
It all started in June when Rija received verbal and monetary appreciation from her father on a wonderful dish.
“The first time I made zinger burger, my father gave me Rs1,000 though he is not fond of fast food. But can you imagine how much he loved it. My father appreciates my effort in every manner.”
“This idea of supplying homemade food had been in my mind for a long time. Almost six months ago, I invited my friends to my home and cooked everything from starters to sweet dishes and everybody loved it. Then I decided to talk to my parents about starting Zesty Bites . They welcomed my idea.”
She has put on hold her business development plans for now, as at the moment, she wants to focus on such things which give her happiness.
Her business would not have been a roaring success without the support of her family.
“It took almost three months to put my idea of business into reality and I did it with the help of my family.”
There are days when her nerves put the young lady on test.
“One day I had to deliver four orders and those orders were so different from each other. Like one was of a cake, the other of karahi. Meeting the deadlines was so hard. Still, I kept on my nerves and delivered the ordered with full taste topped on them. So yes, sometimes I do feel burden but then again I decided to do it and I am going to make it happen.”
Rija will never hire a helper though her order book is getting lots of entries every day.
“I think I will never need a helper. My mother and sister are enough for my help for now. Also, the spirit of the homemade food lies in self working. A hired hand will make my food tasteless.”
She has plans to get the name, Zesty Bites , registered for copyrights.
“Zest means something that has peppery or hot and sour taste and bites mean the food you eat. So basically by this name I wanted people to realize how scrumptious our food will be.”
Rija is studying communication studies at Punjab University.
Her studies helped her make her business viral through social media. Her page on Facebook has more than 700 followers by now.
“I want to do CSS after completing my studies, INSHAALLAH. Media studies and cooking are certainly not related but I am not going to suppress my talent or my interest because of my studies that is why I decided to continue my passion with my studies.”
And what about price?
“It starts from as low as Rs 70 and does not cross Rs 600.”
“Since I’m a student and I know pocket money has a value. I want to serve students more.”