This is the first in a series about some of the vendors at this year’s SF Street Food Festival. Each has a different, unique story about where they came from and how they got started with La Cocina. First up, the Colombian small-bites of Maité Catering.
Born in Colombia, Costanza Ortiz started out as just a regular home cook, cooking meals for friends and family. But her love and passion for cooking led her to culinary school at City College of San Francisco, out of which blossomed her company, Maité Catering.
During her time in culinary school, Ortiz soaked up as much information as she could. She didn’t hesitate to try different things, experimenting with cuisines from around the world. But soon, she discovered that what she really loved was making smaller, bite-sized treats.
“When I started up Maité Catering, I never saw it as a a business at first. It was just something I loved to do,” Ortiz said. “I had been cooking for my family every Saturday and it was just something that came naturally to me.”
But Maité Catering has become a business as Otiz works private events, weddings and a few festivals here and there. Focusing on classic dishes from her native Colombia, she uses some of the techniques she learned in her classes and her experiences from around the globe to provide a fresh take on bite-sized Colombian treats. “I have never been one to cook out of a book. A lot of the time, I will make two different recipes of the same dish: one out of a cookbook or a recipe I’ve found and one that’s my own creation,” she said. “Most of my customers like the one that’s my own better. I just think that you have to be able to taste the difference between what works and what doesn’t. And you can’t always do that from a recipe.”
Even with the success of Maité Catering, Ortiz said owning her own restaurant is not in her plans as “spending everyday cooking is just not in my schedule.” She likes the pace of doing events about every other week. “It takes a lot of preparation. It’s still a very stressful process for each event that I do. I just want to make my clients happy.”
For the SF Street Food Festival, Ortiz will be preparing two types of Arepas; an Arepa Rellena (big bite) and and Arepa de Choclo. Her booth will be located in between 22nd and 23rd streets and Shotwell and Treat streets.
Photo Credit: Maité Catering