Austin, Texas-based Cocina 54 Empanadas began in the kitchen of Argentinian couple Federico Carrillo and Cecilia Panichelli. They missed the foods of their youth and the taste of home. With their young family, they spent weekends making empanadas from a recipe handed down for generations. They froze their empanadas to pack in lunches throughout the week or to take to parties with friends.
But Carrillo and Panichelli realized there was marketing potential in Latin America’s favorite snack.
“We connect with the new multicultural consumer who’s influenced by not only cultural trends but also the need for simplicity,” Panichelli said.
A former Nestlé executive in Latin America, Panichelli has worked hard to bring to life a brand that shares not only the flavors of her country but also its culture. As one of the few BIPOC female-led brands that truly brings innovation to the frozen food category, Cocina 54 also aligns with Target’s diversity objectives. The brand worked closely with Target’s Hispanic Heritage Council during last October’s Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Target’s understanding of their consumer needs met with what we offer as a brand: real food with authentic ethnic flavors that fits their busy lifestyles,” Carrillo said.
Starting May 9, Cocina 54 empanadas will be available to Target shoppers in select locations in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. The Target launch comes on the heels of a period of exponential growth for Cocina 54, which in a span of three years now sells in more than 800 stores, including key retailers such as Walmart, H-E-B, Kroger, Wegman’s and Gopuff.
Last month, Forbes Magazine featured Cocina 54 as one of eight snacks from around the world consumers could enjoy without leaving their homes.
Cocina 54 empanadas are pre-baked for customers’ convenience so they only need to heat and serve. And since the empanadas are made from an Argentinian family recipe, consumers also get the taste of Argentina right in their own kitchens.
The fileteporteño design of the colorful packaging, which is often described as a brush dancing the tango, also brings the art from the streets of Buenos Aires directly into customers’ kitchens.
Cocina 54 empanadas come in four flavors: Traditional Beef, Spicy Beef, Chicken & Peppers and Spinach & Cheese. They are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, meats raised without antibiotics and a gluten-free crust.