I first tried The Empanada Kitchen’s tasty treat at Remarkable’s Market and have been hooked since! Mauro and Rebecca have solidified their ‘local’ status above and beyond, bringing Argentinian/ Italian/ English flavours to our little community.
Who are you, what’s your story.
We are Mauro and Rebecca Viale (Argentinian / Italian and English, respectively). We met about 11 years ago at the Queenstown Lodge (many locals may remember it, a hotel in Fernhill) and after travelling a bit and living overseas in the French Alps, Edinburgh and Buenos Aires, we returned to Queenstown in 2009. Together we own The Empanada Kitchen, a business we started from scratch that is now 4 years old! We live in a quirky barn we restored in Arthurs Point.
Your work. What drives you, what makes it unique to you.
We make empanadas which is still a pretty unfamiliar product in New Zealand. It’s been a process of educating our customers. Our product is unique to us because all our flavours and sauces are a result of Mauro’s creativity. We wouldn’t claim that our empanadas are “authentic flavours” as they are quite different to the traditional flavours commonly found in Argentina or Chile. In South America empanadas are not eaten with sauces, but we found that here in New Zealand our customers were constantly requesting ketchup! So we developed our own unique sauces to offer instead and our Aji won the cuisine magazine artisan award in 2015. Mauro is driven by the reaction of customers who try empanadas for the first time. It’s such a pleasure to see customers return year after year, saying they’re hooked!
Tell us more about the Queenstown community you live in, why you’re there, what keeps you there and what you love about it.
As immigrants, we feel very appreciative of the life that we have made here. We both feel that there are more opportunities in New Zealand than the UK or Argentina. We also believe that it’s possible to have a great lifestyle here in Queenstown, even if you’re not making big bucks, as there’s so much to do out there that’s free. Specifically, Arthurs Point we’ve found to be a really welcoming neighbourhood. Before we even started building our house we found an invitation to a Christmas party on the windscreen of our TEK van that was parked outside the kiosk! The invitation was from people we had never met before but who had somehow discovered that we were future neighbours.
Favourite spot that feels like ‘yours’ and why you go there.
Our home! We are so proud of what we have achieved and built ourselves (with the help of many good friends – we owe a lot of dinners!). Our other ‘happy place’ is Bespoke café on Isle street. We love to go there, have a coffee and eggs benedict and plan our next projects. The service is always impeccable and the food and coffee can’t be faulted.
What do you hope the future looks like for you and Queenstown? How are you investing in your community?
We are very positive about Queenstown’s future, though of course we have concerns (that most people probably share) such as looking after our staff, how to ensure they have somewhere warm and safe to live, and also concerns with immigration rules. We take a special interest in talented young people, sponsoring some snowboarders each winter (this year we are sponsoring 3). We believe that we have invested in our community by putting our heart and soul into our business, providing jobs and by actively taking an interest and submitting on local developments.
The Empanada Kitchen
60 Beach Street
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