When Kevin Conzo received the devastating phone call that his 6-year-old son had died in a car accident, he spent each day of the next three months “putting one foot in front of the other.”
It took rediscovering a family tradition to help him recover a passion for life and honor his son’s memory.
On Oct. 1, Conzo officially launched Zachary Dean’s Italian Cuisine, a catering business that delivers home-style Italian food to the community. The business is named after Zachary Dean Conzo, who was killed March 31 in a car accident after his mother, Kristin Conzo, suffered a medical emergency and crashed on Chuckanut Drive. The 2007 Ford Escape came to rest on its roof in Oyster Creek, about 40 feet below the road. Kristin Conzo, who is Kevin’s ex-wife, survived the crash.
The launch date is significant: Oct.1 would have marked Zachary’s seventh birthday.
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It took time for Kevin Conzo to find a way to memorialize his son. After struggling for months, in summer he began to get back into cooking, whipping up cannoli and other dishes he had learned from his mother and grandmother growing up in Massachusetts.
As he began cooking more often for family and friends, he started getting more requests and soon rediscovered his passion for cooking. By August, he realized his cooking could be a business.
More importantly, he had his answer on how to memorialize his son.
To him, Zachary was someone who always had a smile on his face and a special glow about him. It is those qualities and Zachary’s passion for life that Kevin Conzo wants to incorporate into his business.
“I’m missing out on raising my son, but now I can raise a business in his honor,” Kevin Conzo said. “I want to treat customers the same way that I think Zachary would treat them. It’s the reputation of my son that keeps me in check.”
The business plans to donate 2 percent of its profits to local nonprofit organizations each month.
In October, Kevin Conzo rented out a kitchen and began hiring employees, including Matthew Hilliard, who works as the food and community coordinator. One of Hilliard’s tasks is to make sure the ingredients are locally sourced, which includes making ricotta cheese with milk bought at Twin Brook Creamery in Lynden.
Along with locally sourced food, Kevin Conzo said he wants to bring more of an Italian dinner experience to his customers. The company’s goal is to reach hurried families who need a break from cooking dinner but want something more than a typical delivery or a quick meal bought on the way home. Zachary Dean’s Italian Cuisine also does catered events and is gearing up for the office holiday party season.
“I just want to bring that relaxed, nice atmosphere to dinner,” he said.