By Ethan Lichtenberg

When I think Trinity, Florida, the last thing that comes to my mind is an empanada. Trinity is home to many things like great schools, beautiful golf courses, and better housing developments. But to my surprise, a wonderful Colombian woman known as “Sol” is tucked into one of these neighborhoods, creating empanadas as you’ve never seen or tasted before. 

Many believe food can tell a story when it is truly made with care. Sol is taking the food she grew up eating to the next level. 

A family tradition that goes back nearly a century, and Sol’s small recipe tweaks and hard work create delicious empanadas and mouth-watering “pandebonos.” Pandebono or “Pan De Bono” is a type of Colombian bread made of cornflour, cassava starch, eggs, and cheese. 

Sol and her husband welcomed me into their home with genuine Hispanic hospitality. What I experienced was people who undoubtedly cared about the product they are releasing, and trust me, the taste is evident to the carefulness that was taken in making them. I could taste the culture that brought it to be the end product that it is today. 

Who Are Sol and Jimmie Willis?

The story begins somewhere in Cali, Colombia, over 60 years ago. A family of eight, including Sol, lived in a modest “barrio” (neighborhood). Sol describes learning “the value of family, hard work, and total honesty.” 

In 1981, Sol immigrated to the United States and began a life that would eventually lead her to Jimmie Willis. In the following ten years, the rest of her Colombian family would also immigrate to the U.S. for the promise of opportunity. Sol began a 50-year career in banking that she only recently retired from.

Upon retiring, Sol, with the help of her husband Jimmie, whom she explains, “she would not know what to do without him”, started Trinity Empanadas and More. She believes they are a TEAM and uses TEAM as the acronym for their business (TEAM = Trinity Empanadas And More). 

With the tender hand of Jimmie supporting her, Sol began preparing and selling authentic empanadas as a home-based business. Soon after, through word of mouth, the company started to explode. As of 2019, they developed the small family recipe into a successful growing business. 

Trinity Empanadas are available for delivery frozen by the box, regular dinner size or mini-size for appetizers.  

Get ready to “wow” your guests with unique, tasty, and traditional Colombian handhelds; you can now order Empanadas and Pan de Bonos hot and ready to eat for parties and other special events. 

The Food

The hero of this story is, of course, the long-standing family recipe that began with Evaristo and Sofia Luengas, Sol’s parents. Sofia prepared fresh empanadas for the eight kids in Colombia as often as she could. Through the years, Sol’s sister, Esperanza, learned how to make those unique empanadas from their mother. Sol said, “We all loved our mother’s empanadas, and it was amazing to know they would be coming to the U.S. with us.” Esperanza’s empanadas began to have a loyal following when they moved to their new nation.

Flash forward to the present day, an urban American kid sits down at a table that is filled with Colombian heritage and is handed a lesson in the pride it takes to bring that culture to life. 

Sol prepared a fresh batch of Empanadas for me and brought with it homemade salsa, which is called Aji (pronounced A-he). Me having no idea how to react, I went to break the empanada in half for the middle to cool. This was the wrong move. Sol stopped me, “no, no, no,” she said. There is a certain way to eat the empanada that brings out the most profound flavors. First, you must take a bite off the tip end of the empanada. So I did, and what I experienced was tender shredded beef (never ground beef, Sol says shredded is the only way to go) with a crisp outer layer. It was by far the best empanada I had ever eaten before I tried with Aji. The next step is to squeeze the empanada in a way, so the pocket opens up revealing the tasty filling. Then take a spoonful of Aji and pack it into the empanada, and enjoy the rest. The process was precise, but for a good reason. First, enjoy the pure taste of the natural ingredients made from corn, not flour for you gluten-free people out there. Then get a bit of that spice that Hispanic food is famous for. Pair with a delicious Colombian soda and the authentic experience is unlike anything offered in the World.

To Conclude

From within the walls of that quaint barrio in Cali, Colombia, a recipe was created that would bring Soledad Luengas Petti-Willis to the forefront of her current Trinity community. Sol offers authentic food that will leave you satisfied to have experienced such a warm culture. Sol, we thank you for bringing this recipe to the community. It is an experience that I will never forget and urge many people to experience for themselves.

To place an order place get in touch with Sol Petti-Willis by calling her directly to (727)-641-8580 or emailing: hola@trinityempanadas.com 

For more information please visit https://trinityempanadas.com