The National: Denver Food Incubators + Refugee woman rocking the industry

I recently went on assignment for The National, exploring one of the many food incubators that has popped up in last few years. They sent met to Comal Heritage Food Incubator, located in the RiNo’s new development, TAXI in Denver. Food incubators are enterprises dedicated to building equality and opportunities in the culinary industry for immigrants, people of color, and women.

Food as we know it in the US is rooted in vibrant flavours from around the world. Pizza, burritos, sushi, hot dogs, you name it: all adapted from foreign places. Yet, restaurant workers of color earn 56 percent less than their white counterparts. Even worse, women of color earn $4 less per hour than white men. As the beloved and late Anthony Bourdain said: “Our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers.” The Food Incubator model was developed to address issues of inequality, help provide training/tools, and allow immigrants to share their talents by opening up their very own restaurants.

Jimena-Peck-Lifestyle.Editorial.Photographer.Boulder.Denver.Phot
Jimena-Peck-Lifestyle.Editorial.Photographer.Boulder.Denver.Phot
Jimena-Peck-Lifestyle.Editorial.Photographer.Boulder.Denver.Phot

The Comal Heritage Food Incubator’s kitchen is run entirely by women. Many of these talented cooks have fled dangerous situations in places like Syria, El Salvador, and Mexico. The Focus Points Family Resource center is the non-profit behind coordinating the training and support for the program participants. The nonprofits draws candidates from some of the poorest areas of Denver. These women are educated in commercial food preparation and scaling their homestyle recipes for larger batches. Some Comal graduates have gone on to open their own catering companies, work in fine hotels, open up their own restaurants, and have even appeared on top chef.

Allowing immigrants to take pride in who they are and where they came from is powerful.

I am grateful for the opportunity to witness and work with these women. Having moved from Argentina to different places myself, I know how difficult it could be to adjust to a new culture. Seeing their food celebrated truly warms my heart, as it creates an outlet for people to associate people from other backgrounds in a positive way. So many women and immigrants give up everything they have to seek asylum in the US. I am proud of all the effort the Focus Points Family Resource Center has put in to create life-changing opportunities for these people.

If you are in the Denver Area, and find yourself needing a weekday lunch option, look no further than the Comal.

Not only will you enjoy a freshly prepared daily dish, but you might even find yourself enjoying a cup of Mate with a lovely lady from Lebanon. Sitting and speaking with this woman gave me such an appreciation for the resilient nature of the human spirit, and reminded me we all so much more in common than we think.

To read the full article go HERE

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Uyuni Salt Flats - The mesmerising experience of exploring the fine line between earth and sky

Last fall I had the opportunity to visit the world’s largest salt flats, located in the beautiful country of Bolivia. They are known as Salar de Uyuni, and sit at an extreme altitude of 11,984 feet within the southwestern region. The flats are considered one of the most marvelous vistas in South America, and I can definitely see why.

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Jimena.Peck.Lifestyle.Editorial.Photography.Boulder.Denver.Fort.


Arriving to this otherworldly place can be a little complicated. Opting to go without a tour wasn’t an option at the time. Instead, we decided to embrace the idea of a more crowded truck, which ultimately allowed me to learn a little bit more about the area and connect with one of the most generous and fun Bolivians I’ve ever met. Our first stop was Colchani which is literally the Salt town, but seems to be struggling with keeping up nowadays. The people that live here depend on the salt as a way of making their living, which they extract and process with the same methods as in the old times. It is common to see the little mountains of salt being processed for consumption, as well as building components- in the form of bricks, etc.

The flats are the result of massive evaporated prehistoric lakes. The region is now a center for salt extraction and processing, with an estimate output of almost 20,000 tons. In addition to the salt, there are large lithium deposits below beneath the surface. These commodities, along with tourism, fuel a big part of Bolivia’s economy.

Stepping off the truck and into the endless expansion of a dry and white horizon was eerie. It seemed to go on forever in every direction. The skewed vantage points, open skies, and shadows made for some interesting shots. As the day progressed and the sun started to set, the landscape became utterly mesmerizing. Not only were there magical colors to behold, but they were mirrored by the earth below. It felt a bit like I was walking through a sunset...totally surreal. While the salts may have seemed like another popular tourist destination, they are completely worthwhile.

Jimena.Peck.Lifestyle.Editorial.Photography.Boulder.Denver.Fort.

We made a stop at the Incahuasi (“The Home of the Inca” in quechua) which is the most famous island in the salt flats. It is located 100 kms away from Uyuni and it’s covered by thousand of millenary cacti that can reach up to 10 mt. in height.

Salar de Uyuni is unlike any place on earth, and will leave you feeling in awe of the incredible planet we call home.

We also stayed at the Hotel de Sal Luna Salada and it was the most gorgeous place I’ve ever stayed in.

Not only for the comfort, but because of the uniqueness of the experience sleeping in the middle of the Salt flats on a room which floors, walls and almost everything is made out of salt