Last week we gave props to Nicole O. for being a superstar customer showing up in spite of the heavy winds, lightning, and downpour. This week, we’ll look at a vendor that set up shop amidst the torrential downpour with zero gripes given. All summer, Maury & Tanya, have been showing up week in, week out – rain or shine – quietly making some of the most delectable empanadas we’ve had. Branding is no-nonsense and neither is the food. The savory, deep flavor of the rice and beans matched with the cooked-to-perfection, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside empanadas make for some clean plates. We caught up with the Authentic Empanadas crew on their drive to tonight’s market to get a little backstory on the magic behind their recipes, their business and their stellar attitudes, all of which make them such market troopers on the weekly.
Where do you and Maury hail from, how did you two meet?
Maury hails from the deep south, a small town called Hallsboro, NC, and I am from New Jersey. We both met in the heart of Manhattan, New York City. We met at work, while working for a large international marketing firm. That’s where the magic between us began.
When did you guys first get into the empanada business, and where do the recipes come from?
The empanada business began for us around 3 years ago. We have been making them for about 16 years. The education and love for making them stemmed from a family member from Venezuela that moved in with us for 10 years and taught us to cook every Latin dish you can imagine! Empanadas was her specialty! We made lots of empanadas every day for the Latin community, for many many years. The recipe was handed to us under lock & key and is only known by 3 people. This recipe is from a woman who is half Puerto Rican and half Venezuelan, originally from Caracas, Venezuela.
You drive to a lot of different markets. What do you normally do on the ride over? What’s your go-to driving music?
Business plans, we have a 2 1/2 hour drive to the market, so it makes for some good quality husband and wife time. We talk a lot, mainly about different business strategies and new marketing plans. We coast along the highway listening to smooth jazz and old school R&B.
Your hot sauce recipe is pretty much bangin. Could you give us some backstory on it?
One of my Puerto Rican friends asked if we had a Guava and beef empanada. I told her no, but that got me thinking. I wanted to develop a sauce with guava and the recipe just came to me. We have been very blessed with how well our sauce is received within the community and the local markets. Our sauce is called GUA.P.O y caliente. The name of our sauce is an acronym for “Guava, Peach, Orange juice, and habanero pepper. Our sauce is all natural, and gluten free. We are currently selling our sauce at local markets, festivals and online.
What do you like Audubon Park and the Monday night market?
It has a cool, eclectic vibe. It is a small but mighty market that people genuinely love to visit! The market management is very laid back and treats its vendors as partners and that really appeals to us. We love how the community really supports the market, and that’s really awesome. We so enjoy being able to see some of the same faces week after week. We have developed a very strong customer base there, and for that we are very grateful.
Thanks, Tanya & Maury, We’ll take one of everything!