Route 40 changes course from empanadas to choripan
When Felipe Cufre moved from Argentina to Denver three years ago to join his American wife, he knew he wanted to do something related to food. He was working on a cookbook when he stumbled on the inaugural Civic Center Eats food-truck gathering in Civic Center Park in 2010, which inspired him to create his own truck. And so Route 40, named for one of the main highways in Argentina, started rolling in 2011.
But Cufre had to change the truck's culinary course earlier this year.
From the start, Cufre struggled to find a balance between authenticity and price. In order to keep flavors extremely accurate, he ordered many ingredients from Argentina, including empanada dough and pepper flakes. Empanada dough is sold in Argentina like sandwich bread is sold in the United States, cut into thin, ready-to-use slices that are much easier to manage than handmade dough. Cufre was importing an Argentinean brand, La Saltena, to cut down on cooking time for the 1,000 empanadas he was making per week -- but he soon realized that importing items was just too expensive and that he needed to replace the empanadas with another item. "Empanadas were too hard," he says. "Why not put a choripán on the menu?"
But in order to serve that popular Argentinean sausage sandwich, he needed to find someone who could create genuine Argentinean sausage. He contacted several sausage makers before walking unannounced into Belfiori Italian Sausage in Wheat Ridge, where he found owner/operator Gino Scarafiotti. "I gave him my recipe and said, 'Do you want to try?'" Cufre remembers.
The choripan at Route 40.
Scarafiotti had never heard of Argentinean sausage, let alone the choripán. He looked over the unfamiliar recipe, which included such unusual ingredients as ground bacon, white wine and nutmeg. "When I saw that the second ingredient was ground bacon, I was sold at that," Scarafiotti says. "I said, 'Of course I'll make it -- it sounds delicious.'"
Continue reading for the rest of the story.