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Meet Guillermo Lima of Big Grandma’s Kitchen in Altadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Guillermo Lima.

Guillermo, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m also known as Chef Lima and I learned how to make Salvadorian dishes from my mom whom everyone knows as Big Grandma. I was always helping my mom in the kitchen as a young child when we lived in El Salvador up until the day that we migrated to Los Angeles, CA and settled in Pasadena. At the age of 17, I started working in the food industry. I’ve had the privilege of working every position from the back of the house to front of the house. I’ve worked for fast food places, food trucks, fine dining restaurants, and everything in between. I’ve always wanted to live the American dream and have my own business. Now, it’s become a reality.

Over the years, I’ve worked closely with my mom to master the art of the pupusa while also adding my own twist. Now, for the past year, I’ve transitioned from doing small caterings to farmers’ markets and large pop-up events. My passion is cooking and you can taste it in my food. I’m proud to have earned the nickname “pupusa ninja” because I don’t serve fast food but I serve food as fast as I can. My business is more than just serving food. It’s about sharing a part of my Salvadorian culture with everyone.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Whoever says it’s a smooth road is lying to you! There are many obstacles and challenges that get in the way. Having a small business means making a lot of sacrifices. The biggest sacrifice I’ve had to make is not spending enough time with my family. But I’m fortunate enough to have family that supports me. We’ve been able to overcome that obstacle because now they join me at the farmers’ market and pop up events. Another challenge for me has been to learn how to take constructive criticism. I understand now that to be an effective leader you have to be willing to have an open ear and an open mind.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Big Grandma’s Kitchen – what should we know?
I specialize in making authentic Salvadorian Food. What sets me apart is that all my food is always fresh and made to order. My pupusas are made by hand, they are not too greasy nor too dry and the flour is not overly thick. I am proud to say that I do all of the cooking for my business by myself. I make our “curtido” (pickled cabbage), salsa, and all of my fillings. My pupusa options include the traditional “revueltas” which is pork, bean, and cheese and a favorite “loroco with cheese” (Salvadorian flower bud). But I’ve also added options such as asada (beef), jalapeño, and chicken. It makes me proud when people try my food and they say “wow this reminds me of my moms pupusas” or this reminds me of “El Salvador.” I don’t cut corners when it comes to cooking or serving my food and people can see it.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I believe in giving credit where credit is due. My mom is my biggest mentor to this day. She taught me things that no job training can teach you. She is the ultimate food taste tester so if she approves then I know I’m doing my food correctly. My girlfriend, daughter, and older sister have all been there since day one and they haven’t left my side. My girlfriend is holding down the fort at home taking on more of the responsibilities with our 11-year-old daughter while still working her full-time job and helping me as an expeditor during my events. When my daughter doesn’t have lacrosse practice, games, or school projects she joins me at events and helps me with making pupusas. She is a fast learner. My older sister has been there for me through the good and the bad. When she is not working her full-time job she is helping me cashier at our events. She has the most exceptional customer service and her positive energy attracts customers to our booth. Last but not least, my customers play a large role. If it wasn’t for them purchasing my food and supporting us on social media, then my business wouldn’t be where it is today.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ariana Garcia

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