Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Arriving in a new country it's not easy, neither is adapting to a culture, language and lifestyle that isn't yours. However, those are not difficulties when you want to get ahead and look for better opportunities in life! And the Argentinian Mariela Porrini is a vivid example that shows us that working hard is worth it if you do what you love. We got the opportunity to hear about her arrival to a country as isolated as New Zealand and we are sharing her amazing story with all of you!
Mariela, the foundress and owner of Chipa NZ was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she majored in social communication and worked as a teacher in that area. She arrived in New Zealand a year and a half ago because of her husband's work although she didn't completely understand English, however, that wasn't an obstacle but a reason to work even harder and always keep learning about it to improve her communication skills. That's the reason why she needed to take the first year to take care of their children since they all, including her, needed to adapt to their new life.
Mariela has a passion for cooking and back in 2010 she made a blog and 5 years later she was selected to be part of the first 50 people to participate in the very first edition of Argentina's Masterchef.
She was invited to the second New Zealand's Latino Market, hosted at Wellington this year of 2021 and she accepted. So back in November while she was preparing for this event (that was scheduled in March) she thought of something she could offer that seemed authentic of her and that could surprise people. That was the moment where Chipa NZ was born.
How did Mariela become a "Chipa" expert?
Mariela has been baking for a long time, In the economic crisis of 2001, her family had almost no money for food. That Christmas was very hard. Her mother is a teacher and she alone had a job. Mariela was studying at the university but she was unemployed and her brothers were still going to school.
In that summer she cooked and made bread, to save money. But one day she made six whole-wheat pieces of bread and it occurred to her to tell her sister the idea of going out and offering them in the building where they lived to the neighbours. Their surprise was that they sold all the pieces of bread! And with that money, she bought more flour to make more.
That event was the beginning of her small business of bread, pastries, puddings and cookies at home which operated for over four years. Then she got a job in a media audit, an internship, and there she continued with communication.
"I produced and my sister sold on the way to secondary school. So we were able to pay for our study expenses"
How was "Chipa NZ" born?
Although we already saw how the idea or her business came to her mind during 2020, Mariela and her husband started it officially on March of 2021, after the Latino Market event, when they realized that in New Zealand there wasn't anything like the Chipa and nobody in the country had done it yet.
The market was a great success for us, we sold everything and then people asked for more! On April 19 we legalized our kitchen and I decided to unite both knowledge and passions: Communication and cooking. My experience of having had a blog for so many years and my passion for gastronomy helped me.
Mariela's husband is her biggest support
Without him I wouldn't have done any of this. He's the one with the vision and he likes to plan the scene. I may be more of the details of the present.
In May we had one of the biggest and best proposals ever: Salsa Brava invited us to participate on "The Food Show" and although they thought it was a huge challenge they accepted it since the couple saw that opportunity as the big debut of Chipa NZ, so for that day they made 1500 chipas!
And it was worth it. The event was a huge success for them and after that week, Mariela got a spot on Newton's Weekly Market, which give them the opportunity for growing the business and introduce this foreign bread to kiwis and latinos in New Zealand. Recently they made another big step: they launched a new packing for supermarkets!
What is the "Chipa"?
Chipa is a traditional cheese bread from South America. Its origin comes from the Guaraní people who lived in what is now known as Paraguay, northern Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. It is made with tapioca starch and cheeses.
This bread is sold in every Argentinian bakery and Mariela has lovely memories of the times she lived with her children back in their origin country:
"I used to go to a bakery with my children on our way to their school to grab some chipas fresh out of the oven"
And since in New Zealand they couldn't buy chipas anywhere, she used to make them from scratch with some cassava flour and her own culinary talent.
This tasty little bread became famous everywhere and in Ecuador it is called Pan de Yuca and in Colombia Pan de Bono.
At CHIPA NZ they make the Argentine recipe, from the province of Corrientes, in the northeast of the country. It is a gourmet cheese bread, because it is made with top quality ingredients. They use unsalted butter, orange juice, and lots of 18-month-old cheese.
Tapioca, which we also know as Yuca or Cassava, is a plant. Specifically a root, this root was ground by the natives with stone mortars. Today it is made industrially and the fiber is removed, that is, only the starch of the plant is used.
Cassava starch is very rich in vitamins and minerals. That is why it is a food of the basic nutritional diet in these countries, especially in Paraguay. It has more than 30 vitamins and minerals. Totally natural and gluten-free: That is why chipá is a naturally gluten-free food. Of course, all the inputs we use are.
How do you eat Chipa?
The chipa for the locals, especially for Argentines and Paraguayans, accompanies Yerba Mate.
If you bring chipá to visit someone, it is like bringing bills, or fat cakes. Right away they tell you: go and put the kettle on for some mates! This is a snack for ANY time of the day.
Basically it is a snack that has changed cultures and idioms and was also modified by them.
Today the cinemas sell chipa with Coca Cola to see the film, restaurants serve them as table bread to accompany soups or Dips (different sauces that are eaten with bread or cookies) and even Starbucks have them on their menu!
There are small versions, like the "correntinos" or chipa in the shape of beagle and there even exist some creative people that make chipas in the shape of animals from the Guaraní Jungle!
The amazing history of Mariela once again shows us that the resilience of Latinos is a virtue that we share in our blood. Her talent for cooking is amazing, and she has one of the most delicious seasonings that you ought to try someday in New Zealand, taking advantage of the amazing opportunity of tasting a little of Argentina with Mariela's cooking!
Order Chipas today!
Also, you can check and order any of the products that Mariela's talented hand cook on her business website www.chipa.co.nz and don't forget to follow her on Instagram as @chipanz and on Facebook as @chipanewzealand.
Thanks for Reading! :D
Latino Foods Team