Weston resident opens Tümü in Fairfield using family recipes and fresh ingredients from Mexico

Photo of Abby Weiss

When Karla Krassin moved from Mexico to Connecticut 21 years ago, she couldn’t find flavors or ingredients for the family recipes she was used to making back home.

“My mom used to ship them to me so I could cook authentic Mexican food,” Krassin, a Weston resident, said. “There are a lot of Mexican restaurants, but they don't do the recipes 100% Mexican.” 

In November, Krassin channeled her nostalgia into Tümü, a home décor boutique, takeout restaurant and catering business in Fairfield that offers Mexican cuisine. The crafts and menu items paint a picture of her hometown in León and the surrounding states. 

“I wanted to bring to people the real flavors and the freshness of Mexican food,” she said.

Her dishes are family recipes that contain ingredients sent from Mexico, such as avocados, tostadas, verdolagas, turmeric and epazote, which brings flavor to her beans and tamales.  

Other menu items include Mexican lasagna, a dish layered with corn tortillas, veggies, chicken and cheese. She also offers items like machaca burritos, frijoles charros, chorizo and mole poblano.

Many of the recipes have been passed down through generations and would often be her grandmothers’ main dish during special occasions or weekend visits. She recalls one of her grandmothers making her poblano pepper soup and artichokes with cheese and tomato sauce.

“That brings me memories of my grandmothers and when we used to get together, all the family, and just celebrate a casual Saturday or the big holidays,” she said.

The idea for Tümü emerged when she baked bread for the holiday Day of the Dead and sold it to friends on Facebook. What she expected to be a one-time thing was followed by more requests for her dishes and grew into a catering business during the pandemic. 

She also sells pottery and fabrics made by artisans in areas like Oaxaca and Michoacán. Krassin aims to support artisans from smaller towns that don’t get as many tourists.

“I get a lot of pride talking to all the artisans and bringing their art here,” she said. “Everything is handmade and hand-painted. For example, a tablecloth can take a month to make.”

She named the store after her spirit animal Tümü, or butterfly. In the Otomi dialect, Tümü is the moment a butterfly uses its wings to break out of its cocoon. The purpose of Krassin's store, she said, is to help people from Mexico feel more at home and to expose people in Connecticut to the beauty of her home country. Customers often tell her they've never seen pottery of that style before, and decor in stores rarely accurately portrays Mexican culture. 

"It's like when you go to Party City, and you see Mexican decorations. That's what people think Mexico is," she said.

She hopes to open more restaurants down the road as the experience so far has made her feel more at home. 

“It brings me a lot of pride when people come back and tell me how much they enjoy the food,” she said.