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Art & Life with Stephanie Goni-Fuentes and Marisol Garcia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie GoniFuentes and Marisol Garcia, co-founders of Cascabel Salsa Gourmet.

Stephanie and Marisol, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
[STEPHANIE] I was born in Mexico City but grew up in Ciudad Satelite just north of the city. Growing up, I was always creative and extroverted. The walls of my room took the brunt of my creativity, with ever changing designs drawn, painted, and attached on them using all the mediums and colors I could get my hands on.

I come from a large and tight-knit family. Ever since I was a child, our entire family (on my mother’s side) would get together every Saturday at my grandmother’s house. She’d cook typical dishes like Chiles En Nogada, Pozole, Gorditas, Mole, and Salsa Macha. Remembering that time brings back happy memories.

I studied graphic design in college, which allowed me to express my creativity in a more professional manner. After graduating from college, I started a small jewelry business, where I designed and fabricated a Mexican pre-hispanic jewelry line. The company was called In Ceiba, named after the Mayan Ceiba tree.

I have lived in Houston, Texas since 2008, and since moving here always missed my family gatherings, and of course the food. While there are many excellent restaurants and Mexican products in Houston, Salsa Macha is not one of them.

[MARISOL] I was born in Mexico City and was the second child of two working parents. I was raised by my grandma surrounded by uncles, aunts, and lots of cousins. Some of my childhood memories were helping my mom and granny in the kitchen, willing to learn some of their best recipes.

As a child, I always liked numbers and enjoyed calculating random things like the number of steps I used to walk every day from home to school or the number of toothpaste that my parents had to buy each year. My passion for numbers and the fact that I grew up in a working-class neighborhood opened my eyes to the financial struggles of millions of families in Mexico. Understanding the causes of poverty and how it can be eliminated inspired me to study economics.

I married my college sweetheart and joined him in Houston in 2010, where I did an MBA at the University of Houston and volunteered to teach financial literacy and assisting refugees in finding jobs.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
[STEPHANIE AND MARISOL] We met each other at an event in Houston back in 2011 . We immediately clicked, since we were both relatively new to Houston, both came from the same city, and were both homesick. We became, and still are, great friends.

The idea for Cascabel Salsa Gourmet began when Stephanie shared a bit of her grandmother’s Salsa Macha with Marisol, who loved it, as did many of our friends who suggested we should sell it. The challenge was to recreate it in Houston trying to emulate the original cooking methods. This took a lot of tinkering and experimentation, but we eventually managed to cook the perfect batch.

The inspiration behind our Salsa is Stephanie‘s grandmother, Maria Del Carmen Morales. She taught Stephanie how to make it. Sadly she passed away in March of 2019 at the age of 89. We like to think that whenever we make our salsa, we honor her, and at the same time we keep our Mexican traditions alive.

Cascabel Salsa Gourmet is a traditional Mexican Chili Oil, usually called Salsa Macha. There are various aspects of our salsa that make it unique. For starter’s, ours is an oil-based salsa (not water based like most salsas found today) comprised of only four natural ingredients. It is meant to enjoyed by stirring and drizzling onto foods; not by shaking and pouring. Our flavors are rich, bold, and smoky: think a flavorful kind of spice. Finally, it’s rooted in Mexican tradition and family values.

We use the same preparation and cooking steps used by Stephanie‘s grandmother. It’s very important for us to remain faithful to her recipe and traditional cooking methods. Our main focus is to make delicious salsa that will make your taste buds tingle and as for more, but also to keep our Mexican traditions and flavors alive. In a sense, our salsa is more than a simple salsa. It represents family.

We want to give a huge shout out to our husbands John and Marcial, who were instrumental during all aspects of starting the business. Thanks, guys!

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
We hadn’t considered ourselves as artists in the pure sense of the word, and are humbled that Voyage even approached us in this context. However, considering the link between food and emotions, we think that our salsa gives us a means of expression that can evoke a certain emotional response.

An artist’s life may become a bit easier with the support of other artists. We live in a very diverse and awesome city where Houstonians, in our experience, tend to be very supportive of art and culture. It’s nice when your art-form is recognized, appreciated, and remunerated accordingly. Houston can continue to support its artists by providing platforms for expression, promoting events to increase exposure, and finding and profiling artists to increase visibility.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You will find us at different types of events in the Houston area. Follow us on social media to find out where we’ll be next.

You can also find Cascabel Salsa Gourmet being sold at local retail establishments, such as The Heights Grocer, Luce Avenue Coffee Roasters, and Satellite of Pizza Food Truck.

In addition, you can also purchase Cascabel Salsa Gourmet on our website www.cascabelsalsa.com.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mitch Goni and John Conn

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.

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