The Empanada Girl Keeps Cooking with Home Deliveries

Hunting & Gathering

BY ANDREW FABIAN, ANDREW.FABIAN@SRQME.COM SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY APR 14, 2020

When Stefania Fochi answers the phone on a Tuesday afternoon, she is out delivering empanadas. “I need to call you back in 6 minutes,” she says, “my GPS says I’m four minutes away from my delivery stop.” While “delivery driver” was never a job description she sought out when she founded her empanada business, The Empanada Girl, she would never have ruled it out either. She is one of those people who, with ingenuity, pluck and a little optimism, is ready for anything. So it’s no surprise that when COVID-19 made its unwelcomed visit into the Sarasota region, Fochi had no qualms about getting behind the wheel to keep her business operable and continue paying her employees’ salaries.

“I think it’s all about adapting,” she says, but laying a strong foundation down helps too. Fochi has had her production schedule operating smoothly and without the need for her constant supervision for years, and this hands-off approach meant that she could trust her team to crank out consistently delicious product day in and day out. “It allows me to focus on sales,” she says, “and 40-50% of our sales were frozen empanadas that people would take home anyways.” So, even though her restaurant accounts have died down and her farmer’s market sales are non-existent, the added boost in delivery orders has helped Fochi to avoid drastically cutting hours or furloughing workers. Of course, she would not be able to pivot and dream up new distribution methods if there was no demand, and that demand is bolstered by the deliciousness of her product.

“I do this because I love making good food and sharing love through food,” she says. And the love translates into savory pockets of baked pastries filled with all manner of meats, vegetables and spices. The spicy beef empanada is stuffed with beef, onions, yellow raisins, green olives, chunks of hard-boiled eggs, spices and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat. Her new line of plant-based empanadas includes a spin on a traditional Argentine flavor profile, but with lentils as the hearty protein instead of beef—and she even created a vegan dough to make the line fully plant-based. Each stuffing option took Fochi years to perfect, as did her formula for the dough, which is made with Italian 00 flour for a delicate, flaky texture. 

At the moment, orders can be placed through The Empanada Girl Facebook and Instagram profile pages. Patrons can use the website for a listing of flavors and ingredients. Deliveries are made on Mondays for everything South of Downtown through Venice, and Tuesdays for everything North up to St. Pete and Tampa. And, for some good, old fashioned in-person but appropriately socially distanced purchases, the storefront at 4141 S Tamiami Trail still operates Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to 5 pm and Saturdays from 9:30 am to 4 pm.

Pictured: Stefania Fochi. Photo by Jenny Acheson.

For more.

« View The Tuesday Apr 14, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Global Flavors

Global Flavors

Sep 23, 2020

Impeccable Architecture in Avocado Toast

Impeccable Architecture in Avocado Toast

Andrew Fabian | Sep 22, 2020

Smacks Burgers & Shakes Officially Closes Its Doors and an Era

Smacks Burgers & Shakes Officially Closes Its Doors and an Era

Brittany Mattie | Sep 18, 2020

Giddy Over Garnishes

Giddy Over Garnishes

Sep 17, 2020