Helen Chavez-Hansen, owner and president of La Tapatia Tortilleria Inc., Fresno, Calif., and Eugene Suarez Sr., vice president of Abuelita Mexican Foods, Manassas Park, Va., are the recipients of the Tortilla Industry Association’s (TIA) 2012 Hall of Fame awards. TIA made the announcement during its 23rd Annual Convention & Trade Exposition in Las Vegas, Sept. 10-11.
The epitome of a self-taught business person, Chavez-Hansen began her career at 19, working for a local grain company, and soon became more involved with business matters, saving money to purchase her first corn tortilla production line. From that purchase, she developed a small company that produced corn and flour tortillas called La Tapatia Tortilleria, where Chavez-Hansen spent her off hours. The company grew and soon Chavez-Hansen left the grain company job to become sole owner of La Tapatia in the late 1980s. Expanding further, in 1993, the company began producing tortilla chips using “the highest-quality ingredient.” The success of the chips led to the addition of more chip production lines and flavors.