Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bay Area family business hopes to headline its Argentinian empanadas at La Onda Music Festival

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A family business has brought the cuisine of Argentina to customers around the Bay Area for more than a decade and they are still eager to get more opportunities to share their food. 

South San Francisco-based Cocina Milonga will be one of the vendors at the inaugural La Onda Music Festival this weekend from the same team that presents BottleRock Napa Valley each year.

“This is a very nice product, you know, for a snack,” said Raul Leiva, the chef and owner of Cocina Milonga. “La Onda [Festival,] we are so excited, you know, for that, hopefully everything going well.”

The weekend after BottleRock brings music lovers to wine country each May, a new tradition is beginning as artists from a variety of genres including Mexican, Latin pop, Spanish rock, reggaetón, and mariachi take the stage. The event is already becoming the largest Latin music festival in Northern California featuring major touring artists, according to organizers.

“We love our food, we love our community, we love all the other communities around here as well, and to just be able to share that with people especially at a music festival, nothing brings people together like music and food,” said Eloisa Leiva, the general manager of Cocina Milonga and Mr. Leiva’s daughter.

Mr. Leiva started the business with a friend he knew from their time when both lived in Colombia. They decided to serve food from Leiva’s home country and provide the popular street food item in California. From coffee shops to Chase Center, their empanadas have been served around the Bay Area including in their own two locations in South San Francisco and Napa. 

It continues a legacy of cooking businesses that began the generation above Levia and has now expanded to his children in the U.S. and abroad.

“It’s a project and a product that I love, that I’m proud of, and it just makes me so excited to see how far we’ve come,” Ms. Leiva said.

Mr. Leiva says part of the success they’ve enjoyed is that while an empanada is a classic dish of Argentina, it has a universal appeal in the U.S. People from his community and others enjoy the many different options and spice levels as well as savory and sweet choices.

“All the people love, you know, the feelings of empanada, the shape of the empanada, and it’s a nice opportunity for us,” he said.

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