For those of us who have a fond relationship with food, especially when it comes to fresh baked goods, it’s no exaggeration to hear that a love story was the inspiration for the opening. of a new bakery in Morristown.
Andrew Umpeirrez worked the counter at FioriPanaderia on a recent Saturday, showcasing his customer service skills and performing for chef Luis Fiori and his wife, Alida, who is Andrew’s mother.
The 17-year-old’s first words after his cheerful greetings included an apology from Alida – “We’re a bit empty because the Argentinians came and grabbed a bunch.”
The explanation was a classic story of supply and demand.
Luis is originally from Argentina and owned a successful bakery there before moving to the United States. Andrew’s short answer to the question, “how did Luis get here?” was “he met my mother through a friend in Argentina”. The rest of the story would have to wait for more customers to be served.
Just after the Argentinians left with their stockpiled items in brown bags, a small family arrived who also use English as a second language. However, there was no obstacle to the choice of sweets and flavors.
“How are you guys?” said Andrew, drawing smiles from the couple with a young son.
“They are like a dry biscuit,” he said when the Alfajores were pointed out through the window glass. “There’s a custard with chunks of pineapple,” he said, describing the Molinos. Nevada, he said, is like croissant bread with a Dulce de Leche filling, which is a caramel, but milk-based and not as sweet as a typical American caramel.
The couple’s response was a “no” when Andrew asked, “Have you ever tasted Argentine baked goods?” He pointed to an Ojitos – “It’s blackberry and has a pie crust,” he said, adding one to the brown bag as a sample to try. “Be careful with the empanadas, they are very hot,” he added.
The bakery has been open for just over 30 actual working days – hours are 9am-8pm or until sold out Thursday-Saturday (opens 8am Saturday).
The business started out as a home-based business, with deliveries to friends who wanted to test Luis’ baking skills.
“Then friends told friends and it just kept going,” Andrew said. “Our first day here we had so many people wanting empanadas that our machine blew up because it couldn’t handle everything we were doing.”
So, back to the love story.
Luis and Alida have been together for three years on May 25. They met through an Argentinian friend. Half of his family is Argentinian, the other half Uruguayan. He is originally from Argentina. She had a friend who kept saying, “You have to meet Luis. This same friend then said to Luis: “You have to meet Alida.
There was a day when Alida finally told their mutual friend, “If he doesn’t call me today, I won’t talk to him.” So the friend spent the whole day telling Luis, “You better call him!” Luis held out until 4:30 p.m.
“So, now I had to keep my promise,” Alida said.
“And they started talking and Luis decided to move to America,” Andrew said.
Food would be their love language and Luis’ first move was to make her a pizza. Except there was a challenge. One of the key ingredients, mozzarella, was very different in its home country.
“It’s better there,” Andrew said. “He looked everywhere, for weeks, but he couldn’t find the right one, with the elasticity and the taste.” He is always looking. He is very picky with his food.
Luis and Alida both laughed as Andrew performed, standing close together behind the counter.
“I love baking and cooking, but he LOVES baking and cooking,” Alida said.
“She doesn’t get into it,” Andrew said.
Before his customers left, Andrew asked, “How did you hear about us?
‘Google – bakery’ said the customer and Andrew nodded. “We are the only bakery around”
“We use Facebook and Instagram,” Andrew said. “We have 3,000 subscribers. I don’t know how Instagram promotion works, but I’m learning.
He’s almost 18 and homeschooled – “I graduated at 16,” he said. As for those good customer skills: “It’s my blood,” he said.
The three of them are in the store at 7 a.m. – they cook as they go, so the produce is fresher.
“We prepare the dough; we put the sweet things in it; we shape it. Before putting it in the oven, we put some paint on it to make it shiny,” Luis said.
“As I sell, he earns more and more,” Andrew said. “If it’s a lot early in the morning, I’ll fill the window, but more often than not, the window often fills up throughout the day. We do everything right now, all day long. Everything, we make it here. We get a lot of imported ingredients from Argentina, so it gives a different flavor.
They live in Rutledge and found out about the storefront available in the old Western Willow shopping center (opposite Manley Baptist Church) through a friend who works as a mechanic in Morristown.
“The main reason we chose this location was that when we were doing door-to-door deliveries, most of the people who bought from us lived in Morristown. We had a lot of clients in Knoxville, but the problem was that they lived very far from each other.
“The first day we opened, we had people from North Carolina and Georgia, Chattanooga. There are a lot of Argentinians here. So, to get good Artgentinian pastries, you have to go to Miami or Georgia. They have to drive very far. When they saw that we were opening, they were “no way”. We had a long queue. The woman who was there earlier the day she first came said to the other customers, “Enjoy it, take what you need because there won’t be anything left when I leave.” She initially confused Andrew by simply pointing to each product in the case. He asked her, “Madam, how many of each?” and she said, ‘Oh, no, I want it all!’ he said.
“A lady came in and started crying. She would go to bakeries and explain to them what she wanted, and they couldn’t understand. It reminds them a lot of their country and when they were little because they’ve been here and can’t go back. And it was hard for them,” Luis said.
Andrew was born in Pennsylvania – the family lived there for five years before moving south. Alida didn’t like cold and snow, he said. They had friends who lived in Newport.
“And there weren’t a lot of people at that time who spoke Spanish. There were communities where they helped you read and write. In Mexico there are many dialects and not everyone speaks Spanish, or reads and writes it. Spanish has many accents. You may be able to speak well to one person, but not to another. The first thing she was in charge of was making sure we spoke good Spanish and then learning English at school. The first thing I learned to say in English was ‘Can I use the bathroom?’ said Andrew.
How the love affair has resulted in a thriving startup can be attributed to social media.
“When Luis came from Argentina he couldn’t find the same tastes, the same flavors here, he started making them at home and selling them. He started selling them because he was just making them for her , then she would post pictures on Instagram,” Andrew said.
“Then his friends wanted it. Then they wanted a lot,” Luis said.
“And that’s when they got the idea that people might want to buy from us,” Andrew said. “They tried to do it at home, but it was a lot. We had to drive to Knoxville, Morristown. We spent the whole day driving.
“We had three cars: one for Morristown, one for Jefferson City/Dandridge/Kodak and one for Knoxville,” Alida said.
“We left around noon and did not return until 9:30 p.m. And we would have spent the whole day before cooking. So we decided it would be much better if we had a place where people could come and see us,” Andrew said.
“We wanted to start something small,” Alida said. “But because people come from afar and want to eat here and talk to us, we’ve added seats.”
Luis did all the construction work inside, including the wooden tables and signage.
He also built the retaining wall and designed the kitchen.
The decor will be complemented by artwork on the walls, including scenes from Argentina, according to Alida.
Oh, and there’s coffee. Very good coffee that goes well with all these pastries. So many pastries.