Published April 08, 2014
On any given weekend in Vermont there are more than a dozen farmers’ markets offering everything from local fruits and vegetables to meats, cheeses, wines and maple syrup. In a handful of them, foodies and locals can find a special treat that may seem out of place in the Green Mountains, but are a staple in countries across Latina America: empanadas.
The mastermind behind the meat and cheese-filled pastries is former dancer Ana DiTursi, who hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but settled down in small-town Vermont nearly a decade ago.
DiTursi, 44, has been making empanadas since she was young and would whip them up for parties with friends. Nearly six years ago – about six months after her youngest son Nico was born – she was feeling bored and decided to whisk her son off to the Rutland Farmers’ Market.
“I asked them if I could start selling my empanadas. They said yes,” DiTursi told Fox News Latino. “So the next week I returned with 50 empanadas and a small table.”
She sold out. As she did the week after that, and the weeks that followed. Eventually, with the money she made she added a tent, bought some displays and Ana’s Empanadas was born.
“I really wanted people in Vermont to know my empanadas – I wanted to take them everywhere,” she said.
Since then, DiTursi has made it a full-time business, expanding in the winter to a slope-side ski shack at Killington Mountain Resort, a spot at Stratton Mountain Ski Resort, and a year-round shop in downtown Rutland. She also travels to two other farmers’ markets outside the state, one in Lebanon, N.H., and another in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
“I fill up my truck with empanadas, heaters, tables, tents,” DiTursi said. “I am like a gypsy. I put on my cowboy hat and go.”
On average, DiTursi makes about 5,000 empanadas a week for the ski shack and between 200 and 300 for each farmers’ market. She usually sells out completely. Her favorite flavors are Buenos Aires Beef, pulled pork and three cheese.
“I have lines,” she exclaimed. “They take them by the dozen. It’s neat to have people coming just for the empanadas.”
DiTursi said she believes what makes people come back – apart from the taste – is that she uses mostly local products. The cheese, meat and vegetables are from local farms, which she said improves the flavor and quality.
“That means they know I have a good product,” she said, adding that it is also very difficult to keep a business going with only local foods.
Finding a typical Latin dish in the middle of rural Vermont definitely caught people by surprise, DiTursi said, but for many it’s become a central part of their trip to the Green Mountain State.
“I had one person tell me that they came skiing in Vermont because of my empanadas,” DiTursi said. “Hearing things like that makes me happy.”
Ana’s Empanadas is also selling churros, mate and – at the shack in Killington – beer, sangria and Spanish wine.
“People were asking me (for it),” she said. “It’s not about the money, it’s about making the customers happy, and they are happy.”