People With a Passion for Sharing the Flavors of Mexico
This is the first of a series of articles based on interviews with people who are passionate about sharing the authentic flavors of Mexico.
Lorena Jakubczak, owner and chef of Azteca Gourmet based in Colorado Springs, Colorado specializes in vegan Oaxacan style tamales. Her business grew out of her desire to recreate the flavors of home. She is from the state of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. Oaxaca has deep traditions and a unique cuisine.
The Flavors of Oaxaca
Flavors for Azteca Gourmet’s tamales are inspired by the traditional flavors from her mother’s hometown Juchitán (Spanish) and Lorena’s hometown of Oaxaca City. For many of her products, she uses chiles and seasonings only available in Oaxaca that she personally brings back.
Beginnings and Growth of a Business
In 2011, she started making Oaxacan style tamales because she missed the flavors of home and the special flavor of the tamales that her mother made. The tamales she shared were so popular with friends and family that she decided to try selling them at the local farmer’s markets. Her tamales received the same great response at the farmer’s markets. What started as a home-based business has expanded into her own commercial kitchen in order to keep up with demand. She sells at regional farmers’ markets and caters events. Her business continues to grow as the word spreads.
Oaxacan Style Tamales
Typical tamales that most people know are small and wrapped in corn husks. Traditional Oaxacan tamales are square in shape, wrapped in banana leaves, and much larger. Each Oaxacan tamale that Lorena makes weighs 8 to 10 ozs. which means each tamale is a meal.
Traditional and Modern Tamales
Lorena produces traditional tamales and modern variations. Both types are prepared with top quality ingredients and traditional techniques.
Handmade and of the Highest Quality
Lorena’s tamales are made the traditional way, by hand. They are not machine produced.
Many people worry about eating tamales because they know that traditionally tamales are made with lard. Instead of lard, all of Lorena’s tamales are prepared with olive oil, avocado oil, and rice bran oil.
Her vegan tamales are gluten, GMO, lard, and preservative-free. Her meat tamales are made with meat provided exclusively by Ranch Food’s Direct which only sells meat from sustainable, humanely raised animals that are free of chemicals and artificial preservatives.
To give the savory tamales a boost in flavor the masa, the dough used to make the tamales is prepared with a purée of up to five different vegetables which may include: celery, leeks, jalapeño, Thai basil, kale, and broccoli.
Some of the savory flavors are: red roasted mix, butternut squash mix, apple kale mix, red beef cheguiña, and pork pipian mixed with roasted tomatillo. Coloradito mole is the most popular and is made with the distinct Oaxacan chiles she brings back.
She produces an extensive line of dessert tamales too: blueberry basil, chipotle strawberry and chocolate, apple pie and pecans, and pumpkin pie.
Where to Buy
If you are are in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area you kind find her selling her tamales at the following locations:
- Highlands Ranch, CO Farmers Market every Sunday starting May 8-Oct 30, 10am-2pm
- Colorado Art and Farm Market, every Saturday, Margarita at Pine Creek, June 11-Oct 8, 9 am-1pm
- Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Wednesdays, 215 S. Tejon, June 15- Oct 12, 3-7pm
- Manitou Springs, soon to be announced time and location, starts in July.
Not in Colorado Springs? Have Your tamales Shipped.
Azteca Gourmet ships. They pack them on dry ice so that they arrive in perfect condition. Just get in touch.
We Want to Support Quality Mexican Food Businesses
Lorena loves sharing the authentic Mexican food that she prepares and we want to help her expand her reach so that more people have the opportunity to enjoy the true flavors of Mexico. Please consider ordering some tamales or salsa if you enjoy great Mexican food.