This week’s Dish’n Dames feature brings us … quite literally … a taste from home. Cecilia Panichelli is the founder and director of sales and marketing of Cocina 54, an Argentinian-American family-run and heritage-inspired food company serving delicious, traditional and wholesome empanadas.
Cecilia shares that it is an undisputed fact that empanadas are the most widespread snacks in Latin America. They are a taste of her culture. She grew up eating fresh, homemade empanadas, and once she immigrated from Argentina, she craved her childhood snack but could never find them in stores.
To remedy that problem, she and her entire family would gather in the kitchen and make batched upon batches of empanadas to eat and save in the freezer for a convenient snack during the week. They were the perfect treat that reminded her of home and helped give her kids the same enjoyable experience she had growing up.
It didn’t take long for her to realize her family wasn’t the only family who loved to enjoy fresh, made-from-scratch and convenient snacks — why couldn’t those snacks also be inspired by her Argentinian culture?
As an experienced consumer packaged goods sales and marketing professional of over 15 years, Cecilia knew there was an obvious gap in the market she and her family could fill. In that moment, Cocina 54 was born. She and her family officially started the company and began to produce empanadas that created a connection between her Argentinian and American roots through various ingredients and inspired flavors.
Even the art of the empanada packages represents Argentina! Fileteado porteño is a style of art found across the shops in Buenos Aires and can also be found on every Cocina 54 package. It is Cecilia’s way of bringing the feeling of Argentina to her customers.
It was important to Cecilia that her empanadas, no matter how big the company became, always remained just like her made-from-scratch recipe. So, she partnered with the right vendors who could help her scale the company without sacrificing the quality of her ingredients.
Using all fresh ingredients and olive oil is what provides her empanadas with an incredible taste. Cecilia’s Cocina 54 empanadas are certified gluten-free and pre-baked for convenience. They can be found in the freezer aisle at HEB and at Central Market in the Dallas area.