Taste of Belgium
In March 2000, Jean-Francois Flechet moved from Belgium to Cincinnati ...
First thing’s first. What is an arepa?
You may have walked by The Arepa Place tent on south side of Findlay market and wondered this very same question to yourself but, weren’t sure of the answer. As owner-operator Isis Arrieta-Dennis will tell you, an arepa is made from corn and can loosely be compared to a pita. The word arepa actually comes from the languages of indigenous populations in Colombia and Venezuela and has been adopted into the Spanish language to refer to this corn bread. In Isis’ home country Colombia, arepas are often stuffed with many ingredients such as chicken, beef, cheese and plantains. An arepa mixed with cheese and grilled is what she affectionately refers to as, “the Colombian version of a grilled cheese.”
Isis was first inspired to create food by her mother. Growing up in Colombia, Isis’ mother owned her own restaurant so cooking seamlessly became a staple in Isis’ life. Today, her mother still inspires Isis with her recipes, knowledge and lots of love and support.
After meeting her husband Chris while he was studying abroad in Colombia, Isis moved to the United States. Here, she would often make arepas for parties and gatherings, and her friends and family seemed to love them! Isis always enjoyed sharing her culture and expressing her creativity through food so she began to mull over the idea of opening her own restaurant. Once she and Chris were turned on to Findlay Market’s newest project, the Findlay Kitchen, the pair knew they had found a way to make Isis’s dreams become reality.
The Kitchen has been absolutely vital in turning The Arepa Place into a viable business for the Arrieta-Dennis’. Without the help, advice and support from Kitchen staff, Isis’s road to running a business would have been a lot bumpier. What started out as small stand has grown into a full-fledged storefront business. You can find Isis and her amazing arepas on the Southside of the market.
Next time you’re at the market make sure to stop by the Southside to say “Hi!” to Isis and Chris and try an arepa while you’re there too!