Welcome back to #IBuiltThis, where we talk with entrepreneurs in the Latin food world about their delicious (and crazy succesful) creations. This week we're talking to Junea and Cameron Rocha, the husband and wife team behind Brazi Bites! Have you ever had pao de queijo? That small, baked Brazilian cheese bread that's popular as a snack or with your morning cafe? When done right, the rolls are subtly cheesy and savory with a delicate outer crunch and a tender crumb. But they're hard to do right, especially outside of Brazil.
That's what happened to Junea and Cameron. While living in Portland, they set out to recreate Junea's mom's recipe. But they ran into a major roadblock: the most important ingredient, Minas cheese, isn't sold in the United States. So they started baking with alternatives and taste testing and baking again... until finally the perfect batch came out of the oven.
Knowing they were on to something (and wanting to share their creation!), they signed up for a local foods show then proceeded to sell out halfway through the show. The rest is culinary history: an appearance on the ever-popular Shark Tank and product sold in hundreds of stores across the U.S. (and some online retailers). And they've done all that while remanining true to the original recipe: naturally gluten-free, 100 percent natural, preservative-, trans-fat, and sugar-free. Here's how they made it happen.