A new bakery in O’Fallon, Missouri, offers a variety of sweet and savory scratch-made pastries inspired by South American food traditions. South America Bakery & Cafe debuted in October, featuring alfajores, baked and fried empanadas, beverages and more.
The concept comes from husband-and-wife duo Luigi and Kathryn Guzman. Luigi, who is Peruvian-Chilean, studied culinary arts in his native country of Peru. He has also lived in Venezuela and Brazil and has traveled to almost every South American country. With South America Bakery, he brings the best of his food experiences stateside with handcrafted baked goods.
According to Kathryn – a native of the area who previously worked as a Spanish teacher – the couple started selling Luigi’s alfajores at farmers’ markets a few years ago after receiving encouragement from friends and family who enjoyed his cooking. The tender butter cookie sandwiches filled with creamy dulce de leche were an instant favorite, and they gradually added more items to their menu.
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“Everywhere we went, people were asking us where our storefront was and telling us we needed to open one,” Kathryn says. “When COVID hit, we stopped doing farmers’ markets, used that time to look at what we’d done so far and decided to take the jump.”
South America Bakery fills an approximately 1,200-square-foot space with seats for around 30 guests. The walls are painted a lively blue hue to coincide with colorful tapestries and red and white highlights that represent the Peruvian flag. At the counter, visitors will find a case full of ready-to-eat empanadas and another filled with delicate desserts.
Five baked empanadas and two fried empanadas wrapped in housemade flour-based pastry crust are on offer. Choose from baked options such as a chicken empanada, which takes the traditional Peruvian dish aji de gallina and transforms it into a hand pie filled with shredded chicken, cheese, Peruvian peppers, olives and hard-boiled egg. Fried options include a ham and cheese empanada with Black forest ham and mozzarella.
In addition to Guzman’s signature alfajores, six other sweets are on offer including milhojas – flaky pastry crust with a variety of fillings such as dulce de leche, whipped cream, pastry cream or apple. Pastelitos de belem, a Portuguese pastry common in Brazil, are another highlight made up of flaky pastry cups filled with silky custard.
Entrées are also occasionally on offer for weekend lunch specials, including Pervuian dishes such as chupe (shrimp chowder) and arroz con pato (duck over rice). Drink options include coffee, tea, quinoa, avena (oatmeal), Peruvian soft drink Inca Kola, freshly squeezed orange juice and chicha morada – a fruity beverage made with spices and purple corn.
“We’ve heard from a lot of customers that it’s so nice to have a different option in the area,” Kathryn says. “We’re happy to share a different cuisine with people who are looking for new things to explore.”
South America Bakery is currently open Monday from 7:30am to 2pm, Tuesday through Wednesday from 7:30am to 2:30pm, Thursday through Friday from 7:30am to 6:30pm and Saturday from 8am to 6:30pm.
South America Bakery & Cafe, 4279 Keaton Crossing Blvd., O’Fallon, Missouri, 636.477.6688, southamericabakeryandcafe.com