Today we’d like to introduce you to Fernando Alvarado.
Hi Fernando, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My fiancé and I have a separate side business and in the past, we used to be vendors at the spring valley swap meet. During our time as vendors at the swapmeet, we probably tasted every menu item from every lunch truck and food vendor and we were just a bit tired of eating the same foods. Since I’ve always liked to cook and I learned to cook from my mom; I decided it was a no brainer to take some homemade burritos to the swapmeet for us to eat. My fiancé always complimented my cooking and other friends at the swapmeet started to find out about my homemade burritos and it took off from there. I was encouraged by many close friends and family to be a food vendor at the swapmeet. My first time selling as a food vendor was a bit scary and I had a hard time making those few first sales but ended up selling out thanks to motivation from others and my determination. Food vending at the swapmeet lasted five months before I saved enough to buy items which I now use to sell food at pop up events around San Diego or for catering events as well.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My road/journey in the food industry has been educational to say the least haha. I started off with the knowledge and skills to prepare the delicious food and had always made large quantities before (or so I thought). When I started selling burritos some of my first roadblocks was how to make enough quantity of food for all the burritos, I would sell in a day which included 4-5 different options to choose from. During that time, I bought very large pots and pans, new stove and cooking station that we were able to make fit inside of my tiny apartment. We developed a 5am routine for making and preparing the food to have ready by 7am vending which was also a challenge. Obstacles we faced once we transitioned to selling at pop up events was making sure to have enough food to last 4-6 hours depending on the events, having enough warming fuel for the large food containers, having a griddle almost go up in flames! Thankfully we have learned a lot In a very short amount of time and are used to the emotions that come with being a pop up vendor which has helped us whenever we face any challenges related to food vending.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the behavioral health department throughout San Diego county in multiple different roles. I have a passion for working with people and have many skills to apply when working with at-risk youth or adults with mental or developmental delays. I am most known for my trainings and group sessions as I like to change the mood and settings of traditional trainings to make it more engaging for the learners.
My proudest moments; helping teenagers get a job or into college, helping adults who were homeless at one point to transition back into an apartment.
Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
When I was maybe about 5-7 years old, we went to celebrate a birthday in Mexico for one of my cousins. The whole day was dedicated to the celebration and the preparation of all the food and decorations. I remember instead of playing with the other kids, I asked if I could help in the kitchen. My mom and aunts and uncles all showed me what to do, it was my first lesson In cooking traditional dishes and I was hooked! I had so much fun and was allowed to cook two of the dishes that day. I have been to Disneyland and other amusement parks as a kid, played a lot with other kids but that birthday party was so much fun despite the cooking lesson which made it really special!
- Email: Nandoshotbox@gmail.com
- Instagram: @Nandoshotbox
Photo credit to: Luis Castro