Meet Alissa Peña - The Bend Magazine

Meet Alissa Peña

The owner of JalaPeña's Salsa turned her mother's recipe into a business, and created a taste of home for chips and salsa connoisseurs

By: Alexa Alley Photos by: Rachel Benavides 

How did you get into the business of making your own salsa?
I’ve been cooking forever and come from a family that loves to cook and entertain. I started focusing on the salsa business after a very successful booth I ran with my mom and sisters at the Radiology and Associates Christmas Posada. My mother’s recipe for what is now known as “Prissy’s Original” was served at the party, and we were sold out within two hours! I think if you make something with fresh, tasty ingredients as well as love and integrity, it comes across in your food and people appreciate it. My mom, Priscilla Wolf, has always been an inspiration to me. I can truly say this business started with her amazing original recipe, and I eventually added more flavors and cooking techniques for my own signature spin.

What do you feel your business brings to our community?
Chips and salsa are practically a food group in South Texas. It’s how we start a great meal, what we offer to company in our home, and how we gauge who can really take the heat! Everyone has a ride or die favorite salsa place or recipe, and JalaPeña’s Salsa is my way of creating a little taste of home with the flavors and spices that remind me most of Corpus Christi. I make everything from locally sourced ingredients from the Farmer’s Market, La Michoacana, Fruit King, and my HEB. I also try to get involved in events and festivals that support our city, kids, downtown scene, and local non-profits. Luckily, my job and amazing tribe of friends and family constantly open doors to new, fun ways to get involved with the city.

How long have you been in business, and is this a side hobby, or do you work on it full time?
This is absolutely a full-time side business!! I have a full-time job at KIII-TV as an account executive, so I have to work nights and weekends to shop, cook, and sell my salsa. Channel 3 has always been known for supporting local businesses and helping the local economy thrive. JalaPeña’s can be a way for me to do my part. All four flavors (Prissy’s Original, Roasted Tomato, Salsa Verde, and Chipotle Guajillo) are available in 8oz or 16oz jars or available as a flight.  The 32oz or gallon jars are available for parties and events. Orders can be placed through the website. 

What are you most excited about for the future of your business?
Everything! Cooking is my passion and makes me feel like everything I’ve learned from every restaurant I’ve opened or kitchen I’ve cooked in is now being used in my favorite way. I would like to see JalaPeña’s Salsa on the shelves of locally owned businesses and eventually HEB. I’m currently stocking up for my booths at the Que Bueno Taco Fest and the CC Hot Tamale Festival. My long-term, environmentally-minded goal is to have a jar return discount on all salsas. I also recently launched JalaPeña’s Catering to put my restaurant background to use and offer a full menu of hors d’oeuvres and entrees. I cannot wait to see what happens next!