Margarita Womack: Bringing Empanadas to the Masses

Margarita grew up in Colombia playing in her father’s restaurants. She loved the tastes, smells, and experiences of food. But fast forward to three kids and a busy professional life later, and finding time for healthy, quality meals became nearly impossible. Between carpools, soccer games, and graduate school, she needed a fast, easy solution that she could feel good about feeding her kids. And thus was born M’Panadas - the modern empanada for families on the go.

We sat down with Margarita to learn more about her experience launching a successful food business:

1. How did you get started?

Serendipity can be blamed… for a while I had the dream of starting a business and the stars finally aligned.

2. What do you like about food?  

Everything! Food just makes me happy. I enjoy food before I even get it in my mouth. A good dish should be like art - beautiful to look at, tell you something about the person that made it, inspire you. Then eating is an absolutely hedonistic thing in my opinion: sheer pleasure. Then there is the wellness layer… good food makes for a good life.

3. Why Empanadas?

Empanadas are like BBQ - everyone knows what it is, but everyone has a different definition for it! Most Spanish-speaking countries have their own version of empanada. It all starts with Spain, who brings this convenient hand-held dish to its colonies in Central and South America. The shell might be made of wheat, corn, or even yuca dough, and the filling can be anything imagined. Empanadas can be fried, oven-baked, or sauteed. The wide distribution and enormous variety of this turnover shows that empanadas quickly become a crowd pleaser anywhere they are introduced.

4. What does your typical day look like?

With a LOT of difficulty. I get out of bed and get the kids ready for school (I am definitely not a morning person!). I settle on the computer to respond to emails, deal with any digital stuff, plan the day. Then from there I usually go to the kitchen and spend a few hours working. I get the kids from school, have a family dinner and evening. Somewhere in there I fit some time to study. I am currently doing an EMBA at Georgetown.

5. If you had to start all over, would you do it again? What would you do differently?

Yep, I would still do it. I enjoy the challenge, the opportunity to create. I would practice more mindfulness, and remind myself from the start to enjoy the journey.

M’Panadas are available at Union Kitchen Grocery. Margarita and her team are also available for catering through Al Sur Latin Kitchen and Catering.