Passport Cuisines: student’s idea turns into a business


Photo used with permission by Dean Lambertsen

Dean Lambertsen, senior, poses with some boxes from his business. Passport Cusines is an online business where you can purchase cooking kits which include all of the pre-measured dry ingredients and spices needed to create delicious meals from around the world.

By Chloe Faris, Lake Zurich High School

Middle school is a time to make friends, join activities, and focus on school. While most students were doing just that, Dean spent 7th grade creating a business.

Now a senior, Dean Lambertsen still runs his business Passport Cuisines, an online website where people can purchase ethnic food kits to make a meal.

“You can send the boxes to people, but most people buy them for themselves,” Lambertsen said. “[The box contains] the dry ingredients, and the kit guides you through making the meal yourself. When it comes to ethnic foods the spices are usually the hardest part because they are foreign, so they are hard to get. Especially if you need only a tablespoon, you can’t really buy it in a little cup or something. So [the box] just gives you the portion that you need to make the dish.”

This business is different than other recipe food kits you can find online, Lambertsen said because the meals come from ethnic countries, like Peru, India, or Korea.

“I chose ethnic foods because I’ve always liked ethnic food,” Lambertsen said. “We have Korean neighbors, and they have taught us some Korean dishes I’ve liked, and so I started to branch out and try other ethnic foods and liked them. I knew all the trouble all the spices were, [so] I figured it would be a good product to take the difficulty out and make it so everybody can try it and they wouldn’t have to do a bunch of research.”

While Lambertsen thought of the idea for this product, he had help to start it back in middle school.

“I went through this program with the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurship Academy. It guided a bunch of middle and high school students through the entire practice of making a business plan,” Lambertsen said. “I then pitched [the idea] to investors and the investors gave money [for me] to actually start it. I got 000 and they found my business [to be] the best in the group, so I was sent to Florida to compete in the next level of pitching a business and got runner up there. When I got back I went through the [process] to create the business using the money I was given.”

Through this program and the process of creating Passport Cuisines, Lambertsen says he has learned “how to allocate work,” since the work of running a business on top of like regular school work was difficult to manage, he said.

“This experience for Dean has been amazing,” Laura Lambertsen, Dean’s mother, said. “He won awards for his business and has learned so much. It has really helped shape the type of person he has become.”

While it was a good learning experience for Lambertson, he says he has other focuses.

“I’m definitely not going to shut [the website] down, but my area of interest has moved a bit away from cooking,” Lambertsen said. “I’m going to keep it open and running, but I don’t think I’ll expand on it that much in college. I think it has been a very valuable experience, to start a first business, and now I know how to do it if I get a different idea.”

This story was originally published on Bear Facts on September 10, 2018.