Elmwoodpark woman gets apatent on her Empanada Fork
MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 2013
BY CHRIS HARRIS
ELMWOODpARK â€” When Hipatia Lopez makes empanadas for her family before it gathers for the holidays or to watch sporting events together, she doesn't just make dozens of them, she makes hundreds.
An Elmwoodpark resident thepast 14 years, Lopez, who is of Ecuadorean descent, said the traditional method of folding and then stamping together the many meat-, vegetable- and cheese-filledpastries with a fork took up too much of her time.
"I knew there had to be a better way, and sat on this idea for over a year," said Lopez, who, after doing extensive research online on the existence of empanada-specific utensils, invented the Empanada Fork.
"I heard a lot of 'No's' at first, but I kept on going and got thepatent," Lopez exclaimed. "It has been such an amazing learning experience."
Essentially apastrypress, the $20 Empanada Fork slices the time it takes to make these delicious Latin American treats by more than half, taking what used to be a sweat-inducing task and turning into a two-pushpleasure.
Once the dough of the empanada is folded, onepresses the stainless-steel Empanada Fork down over thepastry. Flip it over, repeat, and they're ready for the oven.
The invention is called an Empanada Fork because it creates the same ridges around the edge of the treat that a fork does. Lopez has been working with a manufacturer in China to make thepastrypresses.
Through her own website, Lopez, originally from Garfield, quickly sold 300 on her own. Then, she entered a QVC.com contest, winning it and earning the Empanada Fork a spot in the television channel's list of online offerings.
"I have reached out to a bunch of stores, and some have expressed interest," Lopez said, adding that T.J. Maxx had called just last week about her culinary creation.
Lopez, who holds an accounting degree from Williampaterson University and works as a bookkeeper, said her Empanada Fork could even end up on Wal-Mart shelves. But first, she needs to win the national retailer's online contest, featuringpotential newproducts.
"If Wal-Mart were to stock the Empanada Fork, things could change overnight for me and my family," said Lopez, who has three children with her husband, a consultant. "I'd go from a regular worker to a complete business woman with a team."
Lopez said she needs the support of North Jersey to help advance sales of the Empanada Fork, which customers have reported using to make other items, such as apple turnovers and calzones.
Readers can watch a short video demonstration and vote for the Empanada Fork by clicking this link: https://getontheshelf. walmart.com/product/176f/Empanada-Fork.