Business Student Strikes Gold Serving Up Authentic Mexican Dishes
It’s hard to miss Business Transfer student Rosa Garza. Between her colorful earrings, the lines of hungry customers, and the wafting aromas of Mexican spices, when she sets up her popular food stand Rosita’s Cocina, it is a feast for all the senses.
Now living in Newburyport, Garza was born and raised in Mexico and has loved cooking for as long as she can remember. “When I was eight, I had my first job helping a lady sell tamales. I would make half a peso a day.” As the years went by, she became adept at making the classic dish herself, even learning about how the corn is ground for the masa filling.
She moved to the United States in 2007 and briefly attended culinary school before settling into a job as a certified medical interpreter. She enjoyed career stability as the mom of a young son, but her love for sharing authentic Mexican cuisine -and treasured family recipes- couldn’t be contained. “It was just a hobby then; I would make food for the neighbors. They would always say, ‘you need to sell this!’”
Once the seed had been planted, the idea of opening her own food business started to take root. Garza decided to enroll in business classes at Northern Essex in the fall of 2019. Then, when the pandemic began, Garza lost her interpreting job. “I decided to take the time to reflect,” remembers Garza. “I knew there was nothing like my [food] product out there. I wanted to show people.” Shortly after that, Garza started Rosita’s Cocina. At first, Garza offered cooking classes and catering and then expanded to a mobile food vendor with the help of some connections she made at Northern Essex. “I was at a Lunch and Learn event, and the speaker had opened numerous restaurants. I literally had my permit applications with me and took the opportunity to ask for help.”
Rosita’s Cocina is now a thriving business. On Sundays, she sets up at the Newburyport Farmers Market, selling hot and fresh tamales, empanadas, churros, and Mexican street corn. The stand will also pop up at other special events and markets throughout the fall. The schedule can be found on her Instagram page. Garza says she’s talking with several local businesses about collaboration ideas while also considering opening her own brick-and-mortar space one day. Meanwhile, she’s giving back to NECC while still a student herself: she will host her own Lunch and Learn in late October and teach a cooking class to the PACE program in November.
Garza hopes to continue her education after earning her Business Transfer degree from Northern Essex. She hopes she can be an example to other students of what is possible when you find your passion. “I started here! I want them to see that anyone can do it. I’m walking around the halls just like them- they can do it!”