Bosnian proprietor serves up European desserts, appetizers

Downtown bakery sells individual desserts, cakes
to order, charcuterie platters in downtown Kennewick

Decades after Nena Cosic was forced out of her homeland as a young child and separated from immediate family for years, the Bosnian refugee is finding success as a baker and caterer.

Cosic recently launched European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena with a weekends-only storefront selling sweets from Red Mountain Kitchen, a “flex-space” commercial kitchen at 212 W. Kennewick Ave. in downtown Kennewick.

On the day Cosic shared her story, her desserts had sold out within two hours of opening her doors, though she had planned to be open for six hours.

Cosic first began catering events in spring 2018 while working as an endoscopy technician after arriving in the Tri-Cities with her children 20 years ago.

“For people in other countries, they often dream of America. For us, America wasn’t a dream. We had our dream, we had a beautiful country, a great leader, peaceful system, until people decided to break up the country based on religion,” she said.

She mostly raised her children as a single mom. “The dream that I always had as a kid was kind of pushed to the side because it was never the right timing. Once we came here, I thought, ‘Someday, I’m going to do this,’ ” Cosic said.

“I thought, ‘I have to do food,’ because I was missing family. I was missing places. But at first I was too young, so when I started it here, it really helped me to find myself again,” she said.

Within months of starting her catering business, bookings quickly began to increase and Cosic left her full-time job.

“I had no idea how I was going to make it from point A to point B, but I just knew that it’s going to work out,” she said.

Cosic, 45, recalled how her children, now adults, often said, “You always kept telling us, ‘When you guys are grown up, I’m going to do my business.’ ”

Cosic put thought into carving out her niche. “I said, ‘What can I do that would be profitable that no one else does, and I wouldn’t have to hire employees?’ And I thought, ‘I can do charcuterie.’ ”

Her parents are now in their 70s and still make charcuterie at their home in Croatia after escaping war and religious persecution in Bosnia in the 1990s.

“People don’t realize that when you look at food and when you taste food, there is a story to it,” Cosic said. “Charcuterie exists for a reason. It’s not because somebody came up with it ‘just because.’ It’s a 6,000-year-old way of processing food.”

Cosic’s family still follows the traditional method of storing the meat in lard.

Slicing all the meat and cheeses on her own, Cosic said she found support from local wineries, which she credits as paving a foundation for her present success.

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