We had the good fortune of connecting with Mercedes Rojas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mercedes, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
Throughout the years working in restaurants and hotels, I have been fortunate to have had the influence of some amazing mentors that taught me discipline and the ethics of hard work. I believe that you can do anything as long as you love it and it doesn’t feel like work. That is what working at the arepa stand means to me. its part of my life and what I love to do. I believe combining that joy of cooking and having the discipline and good work ethics so that our team is excited to work with us is the perfect recipe for a successful business venture.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was born and raised in a small city in Venezuela. Coming to the united states and having the opportunities available to study culinary arts and being able to work here was a dream to me. We do not have the freedom or the resources in Venezuela as we do here so I think that was mentally for me my biggest force to want to succeed and my mom sacrificed a lot for us to comfortably live here. I knew I loved cooking and once I stepped foot in my first kitchen job I knew that was all I wanted to do.

Being a female and also latina in a male dominated field is never easy. That said, I never let any of that bring me down, there have been challenges as we all go through but luckily I was able to overcome them, learn and keep focoused on my end result which was to gain experience and try my best at every job I held, make people happy and continue to pursue my dreams of working for my favorite Chefs. Being able to learn from everyone, always humble and respecting your bosses and co workers its always a plus and that helped me build a family at every restaurant I worked. One of the most rewarding things of my career is building a team minded environment…. I mean we already spend most of our days at work… might as well be surrounded with people you get along with.

Our company, The Arepa Stand has been successful because of the amazing support of our friends and family but mostly i think having a partnership with my brother is the biggest blessing i have had. He has worked the hardest and has stayed so positive through our journey…. and to be honest he is my biggest rock. My success with The Arepa Stand i owe to him… he supports and believes in me like no other and i cant say enough how much i admire his creativity, organization and finanacial skills.. amongst many others… Zeus Ferrini is the main guy that deserves this ShoutOut.!!!

I would want the world to know that this brand that we are creating and continue to grow, we treat it as our baby and we dream, talk about it all day. we work hard, take it seriously and put a ton of dedication into being better for our customers and for ourselves and to make everyone happy.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First we would walk around Venice with a butter and salt donut from sidecar and a cup of coffee, then get breakfast at great white. I think we would spend the whole day eating… I have a bunch of spots that I love…. Ronan for pizza, maybe go to Long Beach and visit some breweries, Lasa, AOC, Rustic Canyon, Hatchet Hall, Petit, Trois, Rossoblu, ERB, Mozza, Johnnys Pastrami, Kampai, Cassia, Providence, Olivetta are amongst some of my favorite spots in Los Angeles and if Lucques was still open would be my first stop… I would for sure have the steak frites. I would take him/her to Point Dume, Nicholas canyon beach, some hikes around the Santa monica mountains and if covid wasn’t a thing we would be dancing salsa at La Descarga. 🙂

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We would dedicate this shoutout to the Farmers Markets in Los Angeles. Mainly to Diana and Frank from Mar Vista Farmers Market since they were the first ones who took a chance on us and believed in our product. Working there the first 6 months helped us build a foundation and confidence to then look for other markets within the LA area. Also all of these relationships in the markets came from my time working under Suzanne Goin and the Lucques Group. They taught me and introduced me to a whole different way of purchasing and cooking with the seasons, this is something that i will forever take with my and be grateful for.

I fell in love with the markets and when the idea came to start with a stand… it was a a no brainer for us. Being able to sell food at a place where the best produce is right next to you … I would say that is more than perfect!

Website: www.thearepastnd.com
Instagram: @thearepastand
Facebook: The Arepa Stand

Image Credits
Suzanne Lanza

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.