Owner and chef Leila Beltrame of Leila’s Empanadas, started putting her artisan empanadas and Brazilian cheese rolls on the market last November, launching with an event to benefit a local nonprofit. “They are healthy food options because they do not contain any type of preservative,” she says, noting they use the best ingredients available, including organic. “We sell them frozen so the customer can eat the perfect portion size they like and when they wish.”
Beltrame founded the company in March last year, and says the biggest challenge since the beginning was to find confidence the public would like her products. “In order to understand the market and how people would react to our empanadas, we did a series of prototypes and sold them to neighbors, friends, and whoever would like to taste them,” she says. “The input from the people that bought during this phase was invaluable for us to make decisions on what would be the products at the beginning and what we needed to change or adapt to get more traction on sales. It also helped us to determine the price range we could sell our products and also validate some of the assumptions related to production.” Now, pointing out that April 8th is National Empanada Day, she says the company has a series of other products and additional flavors in the pipeline.
Her inspiration for starting this company came from a passion for cooking along with a desire to open a meaningful company that provides options of healthy and delicious food and also supports small business — as part of her distribution model — and kids in need. The company partners with the H.E.L.P. Snackz program that fills the hunger gap by providing meals to local students through daily afternoon nutritional snack bags. “Growing up, my family’s farm encountered devastation from losing crops to frosts on multiple occasions, and it was thanks to Nona’s (my grandma) knowledge of preserving and preparing food, that we were able to survive destruction and rebuild,” Beltrame shares.
Says Beltrame, “My family and I are elated to bring this traditional Latin-American flavorful cuisine to the community and give back to others in need, living by the mantra ‘Let’s eat well, together!’”
Photo courtesy of Leila’s Empanadas