Entrepreneur Spotlight: Zedraielle Thompson

Owner of ZesteaZed

Zedraielle Thompson owns ZesteaZed, a soon-to-be food truck focused on Navajo tacos and Navajo tea. Zed, as her friends call her, was born and raised on the Navajo reservation in Tsaile, Arizona, and moved to Colorado with her husband and small children in 2018. Zed has always loved cooking and as a child would help her mother cook and sell goods on the reservation to support their family. “My joy for cooking came from my mom. I take a lot of pride in it because it was my way of helping take care of my family.”

Navajo tacos are made from a fry-bread shell filled with beans and ground beef and topped with vegetables as garnish. The concept for the fry-bread, which makes the dish unique, came from making something out of nothing when the only thing available was government-rationed goods after Indigenous people were removed from their ancestral lands and placed on remote reservations in the mid-19th century. The tea is made from an herb that grows wild and is commonly found on reservations.

Zed shared that food trucks and trailers were a staple in her community because they didn’t have convenient access to grocery stores, and it was an opportunity for people to make money. “The lack of resources and employment on the reservation was difficult but encouraging; it helped me lay out a clear plan of what I wanted for myself, which was stability.” Her determination and focus is what ZesteaZed is built from.

When Zed arrived in Colorado, she enrolled in a culinary program at Emily Griffith and later WOW (Work Options for Women), which helped her find RMMFI. Zed completed Idea Lab and Boot Camp consecutively, helping kickstart her plans to start her food truck. “RMMFI exposed and opened my eyes up to so much more that I could do and bigger opportunities.” Zed is continuing to build the stability she sought out when she moved here four years ago and is hoping to officially open her food truck very soon (licensing pending).