TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.
I’m Giovanna Favilli, a Nicaraguan-American born and raised in Central Florida. At 23 I moved to New York and got a culinary education at the International Culinary Center. After graduating, I began working in different restaurants, bakeries, and test kitchens around Manhattan and Brooklyn. In March of 2020, I decided to move back down to Lakeland and start working towards having my own business – Casita Verde.
WHAT’S YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
Casita Verde is a food business that specializes in Nicaraguan cuisine. This business is my love letter to my family and my culture.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
A few things that inspired me to start Casita Verde include: the smell of my mothers kitchen, summers camping on the beaches of Nicaragua, riding my horse around my family’s farm, and watching my abuelito harvest the fruit + vegetables he grows for the community in Masaya.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
The most important piece of advice I have received about entrepreneurship is to be confident in the decisions I make and never take it personally when people don’t agree with those decisions.
WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS IN LAKELAND?
I have chosen to run my business in Lakeland because there is so much potential for growth in this city. I also wanted to run my business here because my family is here and I want them to see what I can do as a chef/entrepreneur.
WHERE + WHEN CAN WE BUY YOUR FOOD?
You can buy my food at pop-ups that I do around town at Catapult Lakeland, Buena Market, or local Farmers Markets. You can also order some Casita Verde pantry items through my website.
WHAT IS THE SIGNATURE DISH ON YOUR MENU?
My signature dish is Quesillo: hand pressed corn tortilla, filled with fresh quesillo cheese, crema, and pickled onions. This is a very traditional Nicaraguan street food.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER?
What I love most about being a business owner is getting to create a platform where I can express myself through food and art.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS? SHARE WITH US ABOUT THE GOALS THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY CHASING.
My goal with Casita Verde is to eventually have my own brick and mortar in town.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD AS A CHILD?
My favorite food as a child was my moms lengua en salsa roja (cow tongue in red sauce).
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL TO EAT AFTER A LONG DAY IN THE KITCHEN?
My go-to meal to eat after a long day in the kitchen are my girlfriends (Vicky G’s) chicken empanadas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE UNDERRATED INGREDIENT?
My favorite underrated ingredient is sardines.