When Maria Fernanda Cabezas and Maria Corina Cabezas set foot on American soil, they carried their Venezuelan roots and culinary traditions along with their luggage. A pressing concern emerged, though: the absence of arepas, a cornerstone of their diet back home. The sisters’ solution? TOAST-IT, a Miami-based food company that transformed this Latin American staple into a convenient, health-conscious dish.
TOAST-IT Before Shark Tank
Maria Fernanda and Maria Corina Cabezas hail from Venezuela, a country known for its diverse culture and mouthwatering cuisine. Upon migrating to the United States, both sisters pursued different paths before converging to realize a shared dream. Maria Fernanda spent over nine years in corporate finance, working for Fortune 500 giants like Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Citi Bank, and Pepsico. Although she succeeded in this sphere, she felt a pull toward entrepreneurship and a desire to share her Venezuelan heritage.
On the other side, Maria Corina was the first in her family to venture into the United States, initially to study Economics at the University of Miami. Unlike her sister, she went on to earn a master’s degree in Data Science at UC Berkeley. The rigorous academic setting didn’t deter her; she graduated with honors, gaining the confidence and expertise required to start her own business.
The sisters united their skills and passions in TOAST-IT, a venture that would make arepas not only convenient but also guilt-free. The concept came about due to the difficulties they faced in keeping their Venezuelan culinary traditions alive in their busy American lifestyles. After multiple rounds of cooking and testing in their own kitchens, the sisters launched TOAST-IT in 2019. Targeting primarily the health-conscious millennial demographic, the company emphasized strong branding and high-quality ingredients to differentiate itself in the crowded food market.
The flagship product of TOAST-IT is the ready-to-toast arepa. Derived from a pre-cooked cornmeal flour known as Masarepa, these arepas are thicker than a tortilla and boast an authentic Latin flavor. More importantly, the arepas are free from gluten, nuts, sugar, and preservatives, and contain 5 grams of protein per serving. They offer a fast and simple cooking process, as they can be toasted in an air fryer, toaster oven, or conventional oven in under five minutes. Once ready, they can be filled, topped, or spread with anything from cheese to ham and avocado.
TOAST-IT has expanded its product line to include two additional arepa options: one infused with chia and flaxseed, and another made from cassava root. The chia and flaxseed variant adds an extra layer of protein and fiber to the meal, while the cassava-based arepa contains 5 grams of protein and offers a unique flavor profile.
Pandebono Bites is the company’s first foray into the broader realm of Latin American cuisine. Touted as the first sugar-free Pandebonos in the U.S. market, these bites include ingredients like tapioca starch, Latin American white cheese, stevia, and Himalayan pink salt. At 120 calories per serving, they serve as a delectable yet healthy snack option.
By marrying convenience with healthfulness, and tradition with innovation, TOAST-IT has made a significant impact on the U.S. food market. Their products are not just a tribute to their Venezuelan roots but a testament to their ambition to make Latin American cuisine accessible and appealing to a broad audience. With hundreds of orders per week and a presence in various supermarkets across the U.S. and Canada, TOAST-IT is a brand that seems poised for continual growth.