Sometimes you can go home again. Sometimes it’s the exact thing you need to do. For Ariel Barbouth, his return home changed his life.
Ariel was born in Argentina but spent much of his life in the U.S., receiving an M.S. in Innovation and Technology from Boston University and going on to a career in venture capitalism. Because he always had an affinity for fine food, he often invested in start-up food companies, and then decided to give it a go himself—the result, his award-winning and Oprah-approved pasta sauce that is sold in gourmet markets here and abroad.
During his visit to Argentina, Ariel rediscovered empanadas, the flavorsome street food that he had grown up eating: little pockets of dough filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, herbs—anything tasty really. It was his “Aha!” moment. He left his career in banking and opened Nuchas in New York City, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world where he serves culturally diverse empanadas and where high-quality and creative cuisines are favored.
Ariel founded Nuchas based on his own core values. The first priority is that the food is safe as well as appetizing. All food is prepared by hand using premium ingredients without fillers, additives, hormones or antibiotics.
The first Nuchas was established in Times Square, a coveted location awarded to only four food stands. Then came a food truck, then the pushcarts, then the lines and lines of Nuchas aficionados waiting for those scrumptious baked (not fried!), perfectly shaped handheld pies, made even more delicious due to the enticing selection of doughs: rosemary, basil, spinach, paprika, Parmesan and turmeric. There are the traditional Argentinian empanadas with beef, onions, hot pepper powder, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives, and there are the empanadas that represent cultures from around the world:
- Vegetarian portobello mushroom and spinach with berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix
- Vegan Indian shiitake curry with eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and coconut milk
- Chicken tikka popular in Bangladesh and Pakistan with yogurt, red chili and ginger paste
- Creole-style shrimp jambalaya with andouille sausage
- Mexican-inspired chicken with chipotle sauce, olives and smoky Spanish paprika
- Nutella, apples and cranberries for dessert
Ariel has taken an Argentinian tradition that originated in northern Spain during the Middle Ages and given it the most modern of twists: a handheld gourmet meal for the increasing number of people who approach food as an adventure, who are seriously health conscious and budget conscious and who want convenience in the midst of their multi-tasking lifestyles. He also based Nuchas on the idea that the complex tastes, unique flavors and aromas from around the world can act as a bridge across cultural divides, opening minds to new perspectives and experiences and, in some small way, helping to heal our fractured world.
The Nuchas food truck has won the Rookie of the Year Vendy and the People’s Choice Vendy, annual awards presented by the Street Vendor Project. It also won Best New York Food Truck in the New York vs. Boston food truck competition held in Boston and their Jambalaya empanada took Best Seafood.