Local woman brings taste of South America to Suwanee

Nadia Schwartz, left, is the owner of Samba Flavor and the director of operations is Janet Ethridge. (Photo: Dwayne Hood)

Nadia Schwartz, left, is the owner of Samba Flavor and the director of operations is Janet Ethridge. (Photo: Dwayne Hood)

SUWANEE – A Suwanee business is adding a zesty taste of South America to food with chimichurri marinade sauces, seasonings, spices and dry rubs that are being marketed nationwide.

Nadia Schwartz, founder and owner of Samba Flavor, said her business has increased by more than 50 percent during the past year. She also plans to introduce a new product this summer and expand her sales to the west coast.

“We are growing and growing and growing,” Schwartz said. “It’s been an amazing experience and a bit overwhelming.”

Schwartz is a native of Brazil who moved here in 2001. In 2009, she and her husband, Robert, were running a gourmet catering business in Atlanta. She said their business was a success but patrons showed more interest in her seasonings than the food it was on.

“People kept asking me where I got the chimichurri. They said it was so delicious. How could I get some?” Schwartz recalled. “So since they were bugging me so much for it, I thought I might as well give it a try. So we decided to sell the chimichurri instead of the food.”

Schwartz said chimichurri is similar to a barbecue sauce from South America and originates in the pampas region of Argentina and Chile. It was initially enjoyed by the gaucho cowboys but quickly spread throughout the population. It also has some of its roots in Mediterranean cuisine.

“There are 100 different ways that you can make barbecue sauce,” Schwartz said. “The same thing is true with chimichurri. But the secret to our chimichurri is that we use really fresh, high quality gourmet ingredients, especially the lemon juice. And we don’t use preservatives.”

Schwartz said her garlic and parsley based chimichurri is from a family recipe and can be used on grilled beef, pork, poultry, seafood, pasta, salads and rice. She also sells a jalapeno chimichurri in addition to dry rubs, seasonings and spices that can be used for mayonnaise, sour cream and advocado based dips. They also offer recipes for chefs who want to create their own marinades and seasonings.

Schwartz started Samba Flavor in 2010 and manufactures her products once a month at a licensed kitchen incubator called Shared Kitchens which is located off Burnett Road in Suwanee. Janet Ethridge, director of operations for Samba Flavor, said Schwartz’s sauces, seasoning, spices and dry rubs can make mediocre meat taste like gourmet selections.

“It can make a chopped steak taste like a million dollars,” said Ethridge. “Just let your imagination run wild with food. It’ll make you look good every time.”

Samba Flavor sells its products on their website, Sambaflavor.com, at Whole Foods outlets throughout Atlanta and the southeast, the Buford Farmer’s Market in Doraville and on Amazon.com. A high end black garlic product is also sold at Star Provisions in Buckhead. Schwartz said a pizza chain in California and Nevada is picking up her merchandise and plans are underway to expand to other areas of the country.

“We are now the number one seller of chimichurri on Amazon.com” Schwartz noted. “We are beating the big boys.”

Schwartz also said much of her growth is being spurred by cable television shows on the Food Network such as Master Chef and Chopped.

“It used to be that people didn’t know what chimichurri was,” Schwartz recalled. “But now there are chimichurri recipes on every week. Chimichurri is the new sauce that all of the foodies are talking about. The good thing about chimichurri is that it is so versatile and easy to use.”

Schwartz said a new product, Chimi Wings, will be introduced this summer which is a marinade for grilled chicken wings.

“That is our next product,” she promised. “But there will be more.”

Additional information on Samba Flavor and its products can be found at SambaFlavor.com.