Throughout my adult years I have had many jobs and have been exposed to a variety of industries. You name it, I’ve done it…well almost everything. I have working in the Retail world serving customers in various types of stores from grocery stores to gift shops. I have working in the theatre and film industry as a stagehand, receptionist, Stage Manager and Director. For the last decade I have been keeping the candle of hope burning as I bounce around from school to school as an Occasional Teacher waiting…waiting….waiting for that coveted permanent teaching job. Recently, I have taken my passion for cooking and turned into a new venture with my empanada business.
In relatively a short time, I have come across the most generous and genuine people. In all my working life have I never come across a group people who are willing to reach out with a helping hand and gifts of gratitude. My exposure with this grade of people came when I asked Peter Minaki – Kalofagas to try my empanadas now almost three years ago. Unaware how my meeting with Peter was going to go, I met him with a box of my assorted empanadas and with bated breath I watched as he broke open the first empanada. My mind was racing a mile a minute, “Will he like them?” Yes, he liked them! He liked them enough to want to share my empanadas. Little did I know then that this day was going to be a most fateful day. That day, Peter met with Mary Luz Mejia and shared my empanadas with her. From that day on, I have been embraced by the foodies world. Not only are the people of the Toronto Food Industry generous of their time and resources but also of the food they enjoy.
On our first cooking date with Mary Luz, she filled my arms with prized ingredients from Chef Susan such as Oaxaca Salt.and a Hot Chocolate mix. Both gifts have been enjoyed and savoured. Receiving such gifts are a foodies dream come true. One of the pleasures I took from traveling was bringing back edible treasures to be enjoyed long after the journey has ended. Recently, I had met Vanessa Yeung from Aphrodite Cooks at a small business networking event called Mix Mingle hosted by Vanessa Yeung and Nishi Sood from Night Day Productions.Upon instinct I went to the networking event with a box of my Festive Empanadas to share with the group. I’m glad that I did this because my edible gift was well received. After the event, Vanessa requested another sampling of my other varieties to which I was delighted to share more of my little beauties. A week later, we were exchanging cooking and family stories while Vanessa sampled my Classic Beef and Chicken Empanadas. One of our conversations revolved around her Hunter’s Dinner that she prepared over the weekend for clients who are hunters. They brought all of their game; moose, venison, wild turkey and goose just to name a few to be skillfully prepared for a dinner worthy of any hunter. One of the dishes Vanessa prepared was a Goose Leg Empanada and it just so happened the she had some leftover filling. After our colourful discussions about food, Vanessa graciously handed over her leftover Goose Leg Empanada filling as a form of thanks for sharing more of my empanadas with her. Not only was Vanessa generous with her ingredients but with her recipe as well. Here is how she did it.
” Poached the goose legs in duck fat with thyme sprigs and whole pieces of garlic. Once cooked I let it cool before I pulled the meat of the bones.
In another pot I sautéed onions, garlic and red pepper.
Once softened I added about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and maybe ½ cup of water. I also added 1 canned chipotle pepper and about 1 teaspoon of cumin and added the capers to bring in some acidity.
I then added the goose meat and seasoned with salt and pepper.” – Vanessa Yeung.
Of all the jobs and all the people I have surrounded myself with over the years, the Food World is the most enjoyable. Foodies, whether they are professional Chefs or World Famous Food Writer’s when they embrace you it’s like being wrapped up in your favourite savoury sauce. Their generosity and genuine interest is a like biting into a refreshing and flavourful fruit salad; you never quite know what sensation you will experience but you know it’s going to be good. Above all their gratitude leaves you with a comforting feeling that comes from eating a decadent dessert.
Thank you Peter, Mary Luz and Vanessa.