Tatiana Sanabria writes for Pagina Siete:
Bolivian creates a breakfast with quinoa for NASA
Ana Chipana prepared breakfast for NASA personnel. She went 12 years ago to the U.S. and opened a gourmet company that relies on the grain of gold of the Andes.
She was simply dreaming awake. After 12 years seeking opportunities as Bolivian immigrant in American soil, Ana Chipana crossed the gates of NASA to conquer the palate of technicians and astronauts with a breakfast-based on Royal quinoa.
They were her tireless dedication to innovative recipes with the so-called Andean “gold grain” and her perseverance on publicizing the benefits of this cereal that brought her to the facilities of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to make her dream a reality.
The menu consisted of quinoa with mango, apple or pineapple juice; muffins of orange, chocolate, pineapple, apple, all with natural sweetener; ‘humintas’ of quinoa, sweet biscuits, crackers with parmesan cheese accompanied with salmon smoked salad and, in addition, germinated red royal quinoa.
“This experience was a blessing and I know that this will open doors in my career. I consider that it is a recognition to many years of effort, because this does not happen overnight,” she says with enthusiasm.
Simple, laughing eyes, swarthy and frank smile, Chipana directs the company Wara Quinoa for three years; she made her preparations in the kitchen of her home in Tamarac, Florida.
All her recipes are based on the royal quinoa, a variety that occurs only in Bolivia and that is highly valued by having greater amount of protein, a lighter color and a larger grain.
After working hard in her business and promote her sweet and healthy products, Chipana was convened by NASA, which considers to include the quinoa as food for their astronauts.
They were two intense hours in which, in addition to serving breakfast, participated in a Conference in which was presented as a Bolivian proud of its roots and producer of a complete and healthy food.
Rita Del Solar, specialist in gastronomy with quinoa, not only applauded the merit of the entrepreneur at NASA, but her eagerness to promote this ancient cereal consumption in other countries.
“It is an example for all. The royal quinoa is a wonder, is a gift from Bolivia to the world and must make it known with new recipes”, she adds.
The story behind the curtain
At 30 years, Ana enlisted her suitcases and embarked on a journey without return to the U.S. with her husband, Ramiro Silvestre, in search of the “American dream”.
“It was like starting again. “When we arrived we had to adapt to a completely different culture, but managed to get accustomed to, and that is why we remain here”, recalls.
It never passed through her mind to engage in gastronomy, but until her husband became ill with gastrointestinal problems and doctors recommended him to improve his eating habits.
So Ana decided to return to her roots and make recipes with quinoa, as his mother, made them when the immigrant was still a child.
“I remembered the benefits that has for health and we begin to consume more often. My husband improved so much, that made me desire to help others with this food “, she says.
Gabriela Aro, nutritionist, explains that it is one of the most complete grains for its nutritional properties, in addition to being a very versatile light grain that can have many uses in the kitchen.
“It has vegetable proteins of high nutritional value; contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins like C and E, as well as complex B”, she says.
Outside the traditional soup or quinoa cake, Chipana wanted to dabble in pastries, but with quality products.
She studied business administration for polishing her skills and make contacts for her new company.
Subsequently, she received advice from the nonprofit organization, Hispanic Unity of Florida, that provides workshops to immigrants through the program Emerging Entrepreneurs.
With all these tools, she quit her post as a worker in a school dining room to devote herself to her company full-time, along with four aides, with whom accepts orders and caters social events.
Del Solar considered that quinoa always was valued in the world, but not applied in other kinds of dishes.
“Its use is unlimited, is a matter of try and innovate in the preparation. You can apply it in desserts, bakery, main-course, entrees, and even drinks”, explains the specialist.
Chipana, who has similar opinion, test combinations to submit original recipes, appreciated by her clientele.
And even though the U.S. market is stocked with several varieties of quinoa, it is very difficult to get the royal, because its price is high.
This, however, is not a limiting factor. The Bolivian entrepreneur has a provider who is in charge of bringing the royal quinoa, with which her preparations come to a unique flavor.
Satisfied by the accomplishments, Chipana perseveres in her dream of distributing her desserts in the schools and to “promote Bolivia as the world capital of quinoa”.
Kudos for Ana Chipana, her resolve must be an example for the rest of us. I welcome her and Wara Quinoa to The Hall of Bolivian Fame!!