If you’re looking for a memorable dining experience, you cannot go wrong with Fuego Latino restaurant in Elizabethtown.
Fuego Latino is the brainchild of Guatemalan-born chef Gerson Morales.
Morales, 34, worked as manager of a flagship branch of Santander Bank in Camp Hill for 13 years before his passion for the melding of diverse Latin flavors led him to earn a degree in culinary arts.
“Food was always a passion of mine. It had always been my dream to bring something fresh to this community, a different spin on Latin food,’ says Morales.
He began his culinary venture by posting a simple question on Facebook about his idea of a Latin food truck.
“Anyone interested?” he wrote. Hundreds of responses began to appear on his page within minutes.
“I knew I had to do something,” says Morales. He bought a food trailer, got the required permits and parked it on Market Street, in Elizabethtown.
People always showed up and formed a line at the truck, Morales says, but he knew that inclement weather would eventually become a deterrent.
“I needed to make my business known so I decided to take some risks with the truck and joined the Elizabethtown Fair”, says Morales. “We sold out in record time.”
Opportunities continued to knock on his door and Morales opened Fuego Latino Latin Cuisine in the fall of 2017.
The restaurant at 28 S. Market St. has a spot next to Funk Brewing that had once been home to Pita Pit and more recently Boothy’s BBQ. The trailer continues to be used at special events.
Morales immediately reached out to his uncle, Jorge Beltrán, asking for help in managing the business.
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“By the grace of God it’s all been good. My uncle is like a father to me, he is my right hand and I know I can trust the business to him so I can be more engaged in the community,” says Morales.
The restaurant has 10 employees and capacity for 40 people. Morales, Beltrán and Chef David Mick are the cooks.
“What we offer is a fusion of culture and the tropical flavors and ingredients that are prevalent throughout Latin America,” says Morales. “Our food is prepared in our kitchen with ingredients that come from local suppliers.”
Offering a wide range of delicious dishes, this Latin fusion food heaven is sure to have something to please your palate.
Fusion food is a culinary trend that reaches back to old traditions and ingredients, and brings those flavors into the modern age by using them to create something new and full of flavor.
At Fuego Latino, the most popular dish is ropa vieja, a Cuban dish of shredded beef stewed with roasted tomatoes and onions.
“I called a Cuban friend and asked for her recipe. Then I looked at other recipes, did some research and came up with my own,” says Morales.
However, the best sellers are the shrimp, beef, cheese, chicken and Philly cheesesteak empanadas. “We sell over 1,500 a week. It’s not uncommon for someone to call and place an order of 10 of each type of empanada,” says Morales.
Other fast selling items include Mexican chicken tostadas, Salvadoran pupusas and Puerto Rican mofongo.
And, of course, Morales makes his own sofrito, an essential blend of vegetables, herbs and spices that is the backbone of Latin cuisine.
“Growing up, my house was always like a smorgasbord. People loved to come to our house because they knew there would be a lot of good food,” says Morales.
Morales and his team thrive to provide an experience that focuses on freshness and the highest quality ingredients, and sharing of culture in a family-friendly place.
“We have set the bar high for this restaurant. We want to continue to grow. I want to bring a style of fusion food that is aromatic, flavorful and colorful. It has to hit every time.”
He also works with local nonprofit organizations that serve people in need. “The end game is to be able to give back to a community that has taken care of us. Sometimes people just need a good plate of food,” he says.
Morales says he is always looking for the next opportunity to reach high.
“There has to be something missing all the time because if you reach 100% of your capabilities, there will be nothing else to do,” he says.
“My grandma used to say ‘the canary will always be yellow no matter what cage you put it in’. If I can be successful here, I can be successful anywhere. I just have to put in the extra work,” he says.