Claudia Urrea of My Empanada loves bringing Columbian cuisine to the Richmond area farmers markets! Why empanadas? “They are a staple for all meals and snacks, a comfort food you can find on every corner throughout most of South America. They are like American hot dogs or pizza,” Claudia replied. It was a welcome challenge to introduce them to first-time customers but now she consistently hears they are the best empanadas around!
Claudia moved to the United States from Columbia almost twenty years ago, settling in North Carolina with her husband and kids. She pursued her love of making pastries by working in local bakeries and taking culinary classes at the local community college. Upon moving to Roanoke, she continued making baked goods in a local hotel while she and her husband devised a plan to start a food truck business. This was an ambitious and innovative endeavor for the area fifteen years ago! Her husband’s welding and mechanical skills came in handy as he gutted and transformed a box truck into a portable kitchen for selling sweet and savory crepes! It was a tremendous amount of work and a roaring success!
In 2016 they moved to the Richmond area and Claudia decided she wanted to focus exclusively on empanadas. Her goal was to create easy flavorful meals for busy people that incorporated her Grandmother’s original recipe and additional creations inspired by countries throughout the world. By 2017 Claudia rented kitchen space and My Empanada was officially launched! Soon thereafter she was greeting regular customers at three local farmers markets. She remarked, “It took consistency and perseverance because I had to provide a lot of education about empanadas and South American culture; but it came with a big reward.”
My Empanada’s ready-to-bake hand-held pies come in a scrumptious variety including chicken, beef, pork, and veggie. The crust is made from scratch and Claudia frequently uses fresh produce from fellow market vendors. Her current best seller is the RVA empanada, which Claudia described by stating, “It’s more of a Mexican dish with guajillo peppers, chicken, onions, and cheese. It’s smoky and tangy.” Keep an eye out for their specialty offerings like their Italian inspired Caprino empanada with fresh mozzarella, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes.
The platters are a welcome supply of easy savory meals, especially during the hectic holiday season! There’s a gluten-free option too! Parents send them with their kids when they head back to college. Busy working folks grab one for breakfast for their morning commute and as an easy portable lunch. Their sauces add more umami and come in red, avocado and the popular chipotle. Thankfully, they added alfajores to the line-up about a year ago! Who can resist gooey dulce de leche and coconut sandwiched between shortbread cookies?!
Claudia’s beloved Nana passed away this year at 98. She remarkably worked in her own restaurant until she was 92, a testament to the benefits of consistently leading an active lifestyle and pursuing a true passion. Her empanadas live on in Claudia’s creations! Bring the taste of Columbian cuisine to your family with My Empanada!