Go Big: A Love of Travel That Transformed into an Argentinian Food Truck in Germany

Even when stuck at home, some people took the bold step to start something new: today, discover the story behind the food truck Milonga and its founder, Emilio Festa

The truth is, trivago couldn’t help everyone go someplace new in 2020. So instead, we’re celebrating the people that turned challenge into opportunity by starting new businesses, pursuits, and passions. When they couldn’t go far, they chose to go big.

With a lifelong itch for travel, Argentina-born Emilio Festa never envisioned settling down in one place. But after spending time in Düsseldorf, a German city nestled on the Rhine River, he found a tasty reason to stay: the food truck scene. Emilio designed a food truck experience that could bring the pleasures of Argentinian street food to the streets of Düsseldorf, and Milonga was born.

The Interviewee

Born in Córdoba, Argentina, Emilio Festa is currently sharing his homeland's delicacies with the people of Düsseldorf. Traveling the world since he was a young man, Emilio didn't anticipate living the hands-on life of a mobile food owner and operator, but these days he's happier than ever, introducing eager eaters to the wonders of empanadas and lomo sandwiches.
Food Truck Milonga on Instagram

The Making of a Menu

Emilio’s enthusiastic entry into Düsseldorf’s dining scene stemmed from a successful two-pronged approach that valued personal enthusiasm and thoughtful sourcing of ingredients.

Argentina is a country long known for the exceptional quality of its beef, so getting his hands on fine cuts of meat from his home country was a must. Of course, no Argentinian outlet would be complete without the country’s omnipresent empanadas. Making these hand-crafted turnovers is a labor-intensive practice, and one that’s best left to the experts.

Emilio sought out Jorge Heinzmann, a fellow Argentinian expat who was the first person to found an empanada bakery in Germany. Heinzmann supplies Emilio a variety of empanadas filled with everything from the classic beef and chicken to tomato and mozzarella, corn, and other meatless options for vegetarian clientele.

Luciana and Emilio with Jorge Heinzmann, the man behind the successful empanadas

 

Milonga’s best seller is the lomo steak sandwich. “It’s a classic sandwich from my city of Córdoba,” Emilio explains. “I did some twists, and it’s very nice and very tasty. Simple, but effective.”

The versions served at Milonga involve a tender cut of beef similar to an American ribeye with Gouda, lettuce, tomato and a bespoke lomo sauce. Emilio has been consistently bowled over by the public’s overwhelming fondness for this particular sandwich. “I cannot believe it! I’m so surprised by the reaction. The Germans like to say that it looks good but it tastes even better.”

“I have a guy that travels 40 kilometers for my lomo sandwich,” Emilio says with pride.

Inspiring Endeavors

Even during the pandemic, potential small business owners have approached Emilio for advice on opening up their own restaurants on wheels. “I’m always willing to share and I encourage people to start food trucks,” Emilio says. “They have to go for it. If they have passion, even if it sounds crazy, it’s worth trying and in the end, it pays off.”

Emilio proudly standing next to his foodtruck

And looking on to 2021, Emilio has another plan for when travel restrictions open up. His mother, the originator of the concept for Milonga, has only seen the food truck via video chat. “I’m going to get her a ticket to come here and thank her for the idea. She’s really happy with my life now.”

Inspired by Emilio’s story? Keep an eye on our channels for other interviews in our Go Big series!