• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

How Loisa Brings El Sabor to the Latin Food Industry

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Sep 30, 2022


In Latin families, cooking is essential for old and new generations to bond over delicious dishes in the kitchen and having authentic recipes filled with sabor is arguably the best way to preserve family cultura and traditions. One of the main ingredients used in many Caribbean dishes is sofrito, an aromatic sauce that includes garlic, salt, cilantro and culantro, onion and a variety of peppers. These meals would not be complete without the addition of sazón to enhance the flavor of the food. For decades, Latin households have relied on products made by large food companies specializing in Latin cuisine. However, the founders of Loisa had the community in mind when they created their line of organic sazón seasonings, vegan adobo, an assortment of spices as well as their new cookware. But it’s not just the flavors they focus on, they use certified organic, non-GMO, and all-natural ingredients in their products.

Co-founders Yadira Garcia, Kenny Luna and Scott Hattis launched Loisa to represent the Latinx community and celebrate the flavors of Latin cuisine. Luna is Dominican-Peruvian-American and chef and educator Yadira Garcia (@happyhealthylatina) is Dominican while Hattis is a “white male married to a Dominican family through his wife Anna”, as stated on their website. . The trio spoke with HipLatina on the beginnings of the brand and its evolution, including their latest cookware.

“Loisa’s foundation started when we started building families,” says Hattis. “There is no doubt about the importance of these foods in our homes; but the options we had to move them forward [in terms] of what was available for purchase in stores, didn’t tick all the boxes from an equality and ingredients standpoint.

Loisa is a tribute to “Loisaida” – the Spanglish name for the Lower East Side, located in downtown New York. At the time, Hattis and Luna – who are longtime college friends – lived in the neighborhood and wanted to find the perfect company name for the business. The couple found themselves walking aimlessly down Avenue C in search of inspiration, not knowing it was right in front of them the whole time. Luna described the term as a “beautiful word” that no one was using that “is representative” of what they wanted to build with the brand.

Many traditional Latin dishes are often prepared for special occasions. These foods were probably prepared with herbs and spices containing potentially harmful ingredients to extend the shelf life. As a brand, Loisa realized there was an ongoing problem with maintaining all-natural ingredients in Latin culture staples. Garcia explains the importance of using quality ingredients while finding ways to create healthier alternatives to some of the old school favorites.

“Going to culinary school, there’s such pride as a chef with sourcing ingredients and preparing the best food,” Garcia recalls. “Growing up as a Latina and a Dominican American, wanting to see the same love and supply in my community [and] knowing how many reversible diseases and health problems such as hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes that we suffer from.

Garcia went on to say that Loisa prides herself on investing in the community on “many levels,” from the type of products they make to the initiatives they have to give back to the community. Their main goal is to “invest” instead of “divest” – which the co-founder says happens with big corporations taking billions of dollars from Latin American communities.

Whereas Latinx are the second largest racial/ethnic group in the United States, Luna said the inspiration behind the brand came from the lack of diversity or authenticity of Latin foods found in local grocery stores. “From a business perspective, we spent a lot of time going to grocery stores — whether it was CTown, Key Foods, and Whole Foods — there was so much innovation from these other food sections in every aisle,” says Luna. “When you walk down the Latin food aisle, it’s the same dusty, stereotypical brands.”

When asked if there are any differences in using Loisa’s products with traditional Latin cuisine, Garcia says many brands contain excessive amounts of sodium that sometimes impair taste.
“Many flavors are created using salt, sugar and fat [and] some of these products contain enough sodium, which is more than a day’s worth of sodium,” says Garcia. “To be able to make these products and make this authentic food, we don’t use anything artificial to create the flavor. Instead, we take back what our ancestors gave us.

The co-founders believe what sets Loisa apart from other companies is the quality of its ingredients and their taste for everyday consumers. With every product made, the brand is committed to bringing orgullo y cultura to food and the community. “It’s impossible for us to make products without using quality ingredients,” says Hattis. “Our products are excellent, I don’t have to worry about them. Community is what interests me the most and I build around that – and that’s what I think is the difference here.

The use of Loisa’s products is considered a necessity in the co-founder’s households. Hattis says their 2-year-old almost always asks for the sofrito to be added to every meal. Meanwhile, Garcia says sofrito is also a product she uses the most since it was the first product she helped create after becoming a co-founder of the company. Luna, whose wife is French, says they have found creative ways to incorporate sazón into French and Latin cuisine.

Recently, the company launched a new set of cooking utensils just in time for Latinx Heritage Month, including a tostonera, pestle, skimmer, and mortar and pestle. The potato masher is often used to prepare classic mangú and mofongo, the skimmer spoon makes it easier to remove fried foods while reducing mess; the mortar and the pestle are essential in all Latin kitchens to make homemade spices, mojos y más!

Loisa cooware
Photo courtesy of Loisa

“It brings passion, thought and intentionality to the designs of these items because people will continue to buy them and need new ones. [tostoneras]says Hattis. “I still have all our old tostoneras and they are [literally] suspended by the hinges. We don’t throw them away, they are part of our home.

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