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Meet Andres Branger of Orinoco: A Latin Kitchen in South End

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andres Branger.

Andres came to Boston in 1979 to attend Boston University where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1984. He obtained his MBA in 1986. He fell in love with the greater Boston area and decided to make it his adopted home, becoming a United States citizen in 1995. After working in financial marketing for many years, it became clear that he needed to merge his Venezuelan roots with his Boston life. The vision that became Orinoco goes back to his college years and trips that he’d taken back home to introduce his American friends to Venezuela. Everyone always came back talking wistfully about the delicious arepas and the wonderful and numerous taguaritas (roadside family eateries) they had spent time at.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Aside from finding and securing an ideal location where our affordable menu prices could support our operating costs, perhaps the biggest challenge was navigating all city and state permitting steps. We knew we were about to bring something to the neighborhood that was unique and, once we were able to present the idea to the neighborhood associations, we were confident that their support would quickly follow. I’m fond of saying that it “it took a village to open Orinoco.” With the love and help of friends and villagers, from refining the concept, construction and finishing touches, to donated chairs and plates, Orinoco was born.

Please tell us about Orinoco: A Latin Kitchen.
Orinoco: A Latin Kitchen is inspired by “taguaritas”– rustic, inviting, family-run eateries found along Venezuelan roadsides. Our three neighborhood kitchens (South End, Brookline Village and Harvard Square) are each a labor of love – opened and cared for by friends (all native Venezuelans) who are passionate about bringing authentic Latin American flavors and the warmth of traditional Latin culture to local diners. Each Orinoco offers an affordable, neighborhood-focused dining tradition that is known for being casual, lively and fun.

Our menu includes old family recipes that blend the cuisines and favorite dishes of the Andes and the Caribbean – plus specials that take full advantage of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Orinoco features authentic South American wines, beers, and tropical fruit drinks. In addition, our Brookline Village location offers Caribbean-inspired specialty cocktails.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Even as a 10-year-old, growing up on a family cattle ranch in plains of Venezuela meant breakfast at 5:00 a.m., typically consisting of Perico (scrambled eggs with sofrito), arepas, chicharron (pork rind), grilled steak, chicken, and assorted fruits including mango, guayaba (guava), and lechoza (papaya). “Eat, eat’” my father would sternly advise me and my three brothers, “We don’t know when the work will end and when we’ll get to eat again.” This early memory lives on in Orinoco’s generous plates.

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