The Pinole Project is a Mexican-American Food Company, founded by Maya Jacquez and her family as an homage to their abuela, Adela Jacquez, and her recipes. Growing up, Maya would visit her grandparents’ humble ranch in Mexico where her grandmother made the family her Pinole Chia Oatmeal. This recipe inspired the company’s first product, inviting the world to their family table to share their heritage, culture, and history with others.
Sharing Mexican culture and family heritage through food
Founded in January 2020, The Pinole Project took just over 1 year to go from product idea to being available online and nationwide. The project grew from the family’s overwhelming passion to share their abuela’s recipe with the world. Homemade versions of Adela’s Pinole Chia Oatmeal were a regular morning staple in the Jacquez family to fuel their days.
“Our family has been eating Pinole for centuries, and our abuela Adela would add Pinole into many dishes for more protein and fiber,” said Maya.
A strong and mighty woman herself, Adela would always say, “Pinole will make you strong.”
The Aztec Superfood is enjoyed all across Latin America and has a rich history in the region. Pinole is a grain made from dried heirloom corn that is then ground and mixed with spices, such as cinnamon. Sometimes chia seeds or sweeteners, such as piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) are also added.
Once used to fuel Aztec warriors, Pinole is still a source of strength for locals. Today Pinole is eaten by the Tarahumara, an indigenous community living in Northern Mexico. Tarahumara runners are known for their long-distance running abilities. Maya’s grandfather, Arsenio Jacquez, developed a close relationship with the Tarahumara people and served as an interpreter for them for many decades.
“Our family finds so much strength in being able to share our heritage and culture with the world. The Pinole Project’s mission is to build bridges by sharing Mexican food, history, and culture. We grow when we invite new friends to our table. We believe when we educate the world about Mexico, that we are creating meaningful bonds.”
Overcoming challenges as new entrepreneurs
With their ‘aha’ moment and the desire to share their grandmother’s recipe with the world, Maya and her family began their journey into entrepreneurship.
One of their biggest obstacles starting out was finding the right partners to help with manufacturing, ingredient sourcing, and fulfillment. It took many months of conversations and due diligence to make sure they had the right team to succeed.
“It’s very important to have reliable, trustworthy partners because there are so many steps to getting a product in someone’s hands!” said Maya.
As new entrepreneurs, seeking out entrepreneurial friends and mentors was another strength in overcoming obstacles. Having people who have already been down this road is an invaluable asset to anyone starting out.
“Entrepreneurship is extremely challenging, especially in the early days (we’re still in this phase). Not only does it help to have peers and mentors to whom you can ask questions and seek guidance, but also there’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your journey.”
Despite the early challenges, the rewards have been worth it. Being able to share her family’s culture and heritage through their products has fostered a community that feels a lot like family.
The High Protein/Fiber Aztec Superfood You’ve Been Missing in Your Life
“We always love seeing our fans and customers send us photos of their oatmeal. We have one supporter in particular whose love and passion for our product makes us feel so happy and eager to achieve success!” Maya shared. “She makes 3-5 Baked Oats recipes per week (consistently for many months now) with our Pinole Chia Oatmeal! Baked Oats is oatmeal made in the oven. It tastes like a delicious, healthy cake (we are obsessed!).”
From a small ranch in Mexico, one family’s recipe has built bridges, creating a community of people who love and celebrate an ancient grain and continue to pass on it’s history to new generations and cultures across the country.
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“My grandparents showed me what it means to live a meaningful life. They worked so hard on their small ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico to make ends meet. Preserving my family’s legacy and perpetuating Mexican-American food, history, and culture are incredibly important to me.”
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