For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Leslie Olano is a small business owner and Kenosha native, whos mission is to share her love of food with the community. Olanos Empanadas is her family business, specializing in freshly baked empanadas, or South American Pastries. Their product can be found at local farmers markets, food truck events, or through deliveries and catering. Social media and website olanosempanadas.com are updated weekly, so follow them to stay up-to date with their journey!  

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Choose Baked with Olanos

I learned to appreciate food at a young age. Despite long hours at work, my Italian American parents never failed to provide wonderful, homemade meals each night. Thoughts of savory sauce layered into delicious lasagna and seasoned stuffed peppers always brings forth nostalgia and warmth.

Alex Olano was the first person I ever met from Peru and we fell in love immediately. He introduced me to exotic dishes from his home country and it was apparent how talented he was in the kitchen. My husband always longed to be an entrepreneur and early on knew his destiny would be tied into food. He was determined to provide for his family, but did not know how to make his dreams a reality.  

One summer day we discovered the Kenosha HarborMarket. The various vendors and array of goods was impressive. Roaming the aisles had a great impact on us and soon after, the inspiration for Olanos Empanadas was born.

Initially we were overwhelmed with hurdles. How do we start a business? Would people like our product? How do we sell? When do we profit? There were many unanswered questions, but we were determined to find them! This would be a long road ahead, but our need to provide for our family outweighed any obstacles. We decided to take a huge risk just like our ancestors before us.

Much brainstorming, planning and preparation followed. We knew our menu had to be uniquewhile appealing to the masses. Alex opted for empanadas as they were an enormous part of his childhood and a staple of his family dinners. He wanted to provide a dish that was healthy, convenient, and easy to eat at the market. Empanadas allowed him to play with countless ingredients and endless flavor combinations to create the perfect baked Peruvian treat.  

From the homemade dough to the organic fillings, completion was not an easy feat. Days and nights consisted of rolling, scooping, stuffing, baking, and sampling until Alex deemed the goods up to par. After our first sale, we were overwhelmed with an enormous sense of accomplishment.  In that moment, we knew our perseverance made all the hard work worthwhile.

Life is filled with unexpected pleasures. I never thought I would own a thriving empanada business and Alex never imagined he would settle in Kenosha with a family of four. Seven yearsago our empanadas were baked in the rented kitchen of a homeless shelter. Today we have two food trucks and offer 20 varieties. We are constantly coming up with ways to improve and flourish.

When the current COVID-19 crisis came upon us we knew our community needed us more than ever. As the markets are closed, pre-orders have been our focus. We love delivering our frozen empanadas as it serves to provide healthy, well-balanced food to our customers door-steps.

Even though my parents thought we were crazy when we told them we were going to start an empanada business, they have been supporting us every step of the way! We are thankful for our family and appreciate all of our customers. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart, carefully plan, and go for it! Our commitment to the community with quality goods is neverending, and we are trying to make a positive impact when we can.