3 immigrant entrepreneurs bring taste of home to St. Louis

Estie Cruz-Curoe knows black beans.

The Cuban native came to the United States in the early 1960s and grew up in Miami, where her mother added a Cuban mix of spices to canned black beans. But when Cruz-Curoe moved to the Midwest as an adult, she could no longer find the right black beans.


So she started experimenting with dried black beans and her own spices.

“A little while later they were coming out pretty good, and I started serving it to my family and my family was liking it, and I started serving to my friends and they were liking it,” Cruz-Curoe said.

It was her friends who pushed her to consider making it a business, and in 2009 del Carmen Foods was born. Cruz-Curoe now sells black bean soup, black bean hummus, black bean dip and, of course, black beans in stores around the St. Louis region with plans to expand nationally.

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