Tangletown woman refocuses mission of nut business

Isadore Nut Co. founder Tasya Kelen offers a sample to a woman in the Minneapolis Skyway. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.

Tasya Kelen has always been passionate about healthy food.

About six years ago, when Kelen was getting her yoga instructors certification, she frequented local farmer’s markets near her Tangletown home searching for nourishing fare.

“I noticed they didn’t have a healthy, delicious snack,” Kelen said.

So, inspired by her grandfather Isadaore, who taught her family that food was medicine, Kelen started making nuts. She eventually called the business the Isadore Nut Co. in his honor. Her initial three goals for the business were to make food that tasted good, was good for you and was good for the planet.

For the most part she succeeded by finding ethically sourced nuts from across the globe and packing her initial batches in mason jars. Ultimately, she learned she couldn’t check all her boxes and had to settle for recycled plastic packaging and getting some nuts that were GMO-free, but not organic.

Recently though, Kelen’s been inspired to make her company more mission driven.

For the first five years, Kelen produced her nuts at City Food Studio in Powderhorn, but in October she decided to leave the city to cook her nuts at Cornerstone Creek, an independent living community for adults with developmental disabilities run by Jewish Housing and Programing in Golden Valley. Through J-HAP’s The Nosh and Nibble commercial kosher kitchen, Kelen has become an inclusive employer, giving meaningful work to residents who want it.

J-HAP kitchen director Nicole Rabinowitz said Isadore Nut Co. is the first business to work out of The Nosh and Nibble, and that the organization is focusing on renting the space to people who believe in their mission.

“I needed to do things that really felt more purposeful,”Kelen said.

Kelen typically sells five varieties of a mixture of pecans, walnuts and cashews, each coated with a different blend of natural herbs and spices, sweetened only by a small amount of maple syrup. For the holiday season, she’s rolled out two special batches, Chocolate Mint Crunch Pecans and Chai Spice Pecans.

In addition to it's staple of nut mixes, Isadore Nut Co. has two seasonal batches out for the holidays: Chai Spice Pecans and Chocolate Mint Crunch Pecans.
In addition to its staple of nut mixes, Isadore Nut Co. has two seasonal batches out for the holidays: Chai Spice Pecans and Chocolate Mint Crunch Pecans.

While Isadore does most of its sales online, the nuts are sold at shops through Southwest, and can be found at the Wedge Co-Op, Linden Hills Co-Op and France 44, among other locations.

In addition to employing Cornerstone Creek residents through J-HAP, Kelen is hoping to grow some of the herbs and spices she uses in her nuts in their garden space.

“I’m finally doing something that feels meaningful on so many levels,” she said.