If there's one thing that eats at Gianni Santamaria, it's people who stereotype and pigeonhole Latin Americans.
He shakes his head at the ill-conceived notion that tacos and burritos are the staple of the diet of everyone south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Santamaria, who is of Chilean ancestry, owns Food 4 Taste, a takeout and catering business run out of his north Orem home.The business offers a wide array of Chilean, American and Italian menu items. But make no mistake about it, Santamaria's specialty is Chilean food. And in Chile, a "taco" is the heel of a shoe and a "burrito" is a little donkey.
"I want with all my heart to make Chilean food well-known," said Santamaria, whose parents immigrated to this country from Chile 27 years ago. And that desire is gradually being fulfilled with every empanada, lomito, chacarero and churrasco that is consumed.
Food 4 Taste features its famous empanadas (baked or fried, beef or chicken filling) for under $2. Its specialty sandwiches sell for under $4, including churrascos (thin steak grilled with fresh onions and green peppers on a lightly toasted bun), lomitos (grilled thin cut pork layered with tomatoes and avocado slices on a toasted bun) and chacareros (grilled, thin steak layered with green beans and fresh sliced tomatoes on a toasted and buttered bun).
Santamaria's mother, Marta, started the business, believed to be the only Chilean-oriented food establishment of its kind in Utah, five years ago. And the Santamarias have come a long way from the days when Marta Santamaria started selling bread.
A sweltering kitchen filled with ovens and the aroma of freshly baked bread adjoins the Santamaria house at 689 W. 1600 North. Every day, people wander in off the street for take-out. And for a nominal fee, Santamaria will deliver. He also does weddings, parties and business meetings.
Food for Taste has made a hit with a certain segment of the population. Santamaria says 50 percent of the clientele is made up of returned LDS Church missionaries who served in Chile and students who participated in study abroad trips there.
Though Santamaria, 22, the oldest of five children, grew up feasting on his mom's cuisine, it wasn't until his own LDS Church mission to Italy that he learned to truly appreciate the art of cooking.
"Before my mission, I was involved in the management side, not the cooking side," he said.
Santamaria is working toward moving Food 4 Taste to a new location at 180 W. Center St. in Orem. The new digs will have a bar and a few tables and chairs for customers, similar to those found in Chile and in Europe.
For more information about Food 4 Taste call 724-9934.