Green Business Network interview with MO'Empanadas

Will Eley, Green Jobs Program Manager at PEA, interviewing Mike Ortegon (Owner & Chef) and Karen Ruiz (Business Manager) of MO’Empanadas

WE: Karen and Mike, thank you both so much for taking time to sit down and speak with PEA about MO’Empanadas. Our Green Business Network is so excited to welcome y’all. So many of us are super-fans of y’all’s food, y’all’s waste reduction standards, and y’all’s presence at some of our favorite places, like Bailey Park, Cobblestone Farmers Market, fellow network member Wise Man Brewing, and PEA’s Piedmont Earth Day Fair. 

For our members who may not be as familiar with MO’Empanadas, please give us the elevator pitch on your mission. 

K&M: Experience the rich tapestry of Colombian flavors passed down through our family's recipes, ensuring every bite is an authentic taste of our heritage. From savory empanadas to tantalizing arepas, our menu celebrates the soul of Colombian dishes. From locally-sourced ingredients to biodegradable packaging, we're passionate about preserving the planet while serving up delicious Colombian food on the go. Join us and savor the timeless tastes that have delighted generations, right here in your own neighborhood.

WE: I appreciate you for highlighting that intersection: commitments to both timeless flavors and the natural world. Y’all are Colombian, and it’s clear to me that your origin story fuels a sense of pride and an ethics of earth-care. For our readers who have never visited, Colombia is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse places in the world. And y’all even champion that on social media, to tell that larger story behind MO’Empanadas fantastic food. Tell us more about that intersection. 

K&M: We’d be glad to explain. We’re passionate about bringing the love of biological diversity–that has permeated our Colombian upbringing and culture as first generation Americans–to the consciousness of people here in the Piedmont Triad. The beautiful and rich mixture of animals, plants, microorganisms, and humans that makes Colombia so biologically diverse is not only reflected in Colombian culture but also in Colombian food. The natural ingredients used in all Colombian cuisine-including our own-is the culmination of Colombia’s vibrant biodiversity. We’re proud to represent the variegated and beautiful culture of our home country with our locally sourced ingredients.

WE: Y’all are doing so much already as stewards of the planet, North Carolina, and Colombia: waste reduction and composting; electrification of your truck whenever possible; often times providing people with their first bite of Colombian cuisine; and so much more. What’s next for MO’Empanadas? And what are your hopes for Winston-Salem with respect to sustainability?

K&M: Thank you! We will be rolling out a new Menu in the Spring and continuing our efforts with PEA, as well as participating in the April 20th Piedmont Earth Day Fair. We would love to raise money and be the first solar powered food truck in the Triad!! We realize that the gas-generator is not ideal but unfortunately there isn’t much else of an option. We would love for all local businesses to provide a 50 amp power source for food trucks and to see more food trucks move away from foam/plastics where possible. We want to continue setting a trend for something as important as this!