Part 1: 2015-2017: The Foundations
We first started Casa de Empanadas in The Netherlands in 2015. Yet, the truth is that Casa de Empanadas started way earlier than the actual business since it is a family tradition, as you will learn from this post.
But, back in 2015: Salentein, renowned winery from Argentina owned by the Pon family from The Netherlands, had just hired Juan Novelli, a seasoned Argentinian Chef with work experience all over Europe and Argentina and with deep roots in the wine scene in his hometown Tupungato, Mendoza, land of wines, to work on a new concept of Argentinian Style restaurant in The Netherlands. This is how, chef Novelli and his partner in life Sabrina Coria, ended living in the province of Gelderland, in The Netherlands.
The students where amazed and valued the difficulty of the repulgue technique (the “art” of closing and sealing the empanada). They also saw each empanada as a world of flavours.
That was the EUREKA moment, says chef Novelli, where together with Sabrina decided to make an empanada with each of the gastronomic flavours recognised worldwide, but keeping the traditional artisan homemade style of the original Argentinian empanada.
Even with a humble start and lack of resources but with clear wishes, ideas, entrepreneurship willingness and convictions the Novelli’s made from the lacks a virtue. Over time empanadas were recognised in The Netherlands and began to grow.
The secret of it all, does not rely in the entrepreneurial push, or the wish to succeed but is rooted in the basic roots of civilisation: family tradition. In the case of the Novelli’s and Coria’s this meant not only family roots but also great cooks that loved to share, to be original and creative. As family heritage, grandmas and moms, particularly Mama Grace, passed their knowledge and secrets of a good empanada.
Casa de Empanadas’ first client was indeed the novel concept of authentic Argentinian “parrilla” in the middle of a typical Dutch town, Niikerk. These exclusive BBQ restaurant lead by chef Novelli, El Portillo was a success right from the start. With its wonderful surroundings and its nice ambience, the empanadas and great wine made a lasting impression in the locals, that went to enjoy the traditional Argentinian delight with friends, family and colleagues.
And one of this customers was an Argentinian that have been a regular from 2005, years before moving with his family to live and work in The Netherlands. Upon meeting with chef Novelli, the second part of Casa de Empanadas starts …
Stay tuned for our Part 2 Blog on the Beginnings of Casa de Empanadas