Shopkick Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts until October 15. Here at Shopkick, we are proud to celebrate our employees and partners across diverse backgrounds and foster an inclusive culture both internally and within our app for our Shopkick Community. We are invested in learning about different cultures, as this is what makes each of us unique. We are thrilled to share some stories from our team members, Shopkick community, and partners on their favorite Hispanic traditions, foods, brands, and more!

 

Question: What is your favorite Hispanic food or dish that you made with your family growing up?

Sam Alvarez (Marketing Associate): My favorite Cuban dish is arroz con bistec (rice with steak). Cuban steak is very thin and marinated with garlic and topped with onions. My Abuelo was a chef from Cuba so having any of his dishes was delicious and authentic!

Stella Araya-Weil (Senior Account Director): Adobo! Adobo is actually the national dish of the Philippines with Spanish roots coming from the word adobar, meaning marinade, sauce or seasoning. The dish is either pork or chicken (or both!) and it is marinated in soy sauce and vinegar. The history of the dish goes back to Spain and Portugal, as the Spaniards occupied the PI Islands for 300 years.

Kimberly Ruiz Beck (Chairman, Ruiz Foods): My Grandmother Rosie was an amazing cook and as kids, we loved any time we knew we were going to her house, especially when she was preparing a meal.   She could tell what a dish needed just by taking a small taste. “Add a pinch of cumin,” she would say.  And she’d be right. It was fun to be side-by-side with her in the kitchen, learning as much as I could.

Her enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos … and so much more … were such family and friend favorites that her recipes became the flavor profiles for our El Monterey frozen Mexican food line. Grandma Rosie believed in quality and great taste, a commitment my father, Fred, and his father, Louis, embraced when they formed Ruiz Foods. I am proud to say it is a commitment we have also made as we continue the tradition of offering our consumer a wide variety of Mexican food products.

Araceli Castaneda (Senior Marketing Associate): Making tamales with my family growing up will forever be one of my favorite foods. While these can be exhausting to make, especially when cooking for the whole family, I’ve always enjoyed helping my mom and aunts in the kitchen. Plus, I get to learn the recipe that I can continue to pass on!

Eric Batista (Shopkick Community Member): Hands down picadillo. It’s such a simple meal, but with a ton of flavor. This was the go-to for big family get-togethers growing up and brings back such great memories.

 

Question: What is your favorite Hispanic tradition or activities?

Sam: Making cascarones. These are similar to Easter eggs, but we decorate the outside of the eggs and fill them with confetti. It is a tradition to “crack” the confetti eggs on each other’s heads during Easter egg hunts.

Stella: Celebrating Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead – a Mexican custom after Halloween that is celebrated November 1-2. Ornate costumes with makeup are worn, and families gather and decorate gravesites to commemorate loved ones who have passed on. It is a day of festivities and remembrance and honoring those who have passed. Every few years we try to celebrate the Holiday in Mexico as a family – coincidentally my daughter was born on November 1 so there are so many reasons to celebrate.

Kimberly: There’s nothing better than family gatherings. When I was young, it was always my favorite time to get together with my siblings and the rest of the family.

Now that we are all grown with families of our own, our gatherings may not be as frequent, but when we get together it can seem what I like to call ‘controlled chaos’. With four generations, family gatherings can be quite large but when my children’s grandmother says it’s time to eat, the chaos magically quiets and everyone sits down in anticipation of her chile verde, enchiladas, or mole.

It’s the getting together over great food, sharing, laughing, and catching up on what everyone is doing that is the most enjoyable and memorable.

Araceli: My favorite tradition continues to be celebrating Noche Buena aka Christmas Eve with my family. We all gather to enjoy delicious foods, play games, dance (or sing karaoke) and open our gifts at midnight.

Eric: If we’re talking holidays, definitely New Year’s, my family roasts’ a whole pig – a common tradition in Cuba – and we all gather for a full day of celebrating, eating, and a few too many cocktails (if there is such a thing ). Though the majority of my family now lives in the US, we love to keep a lot of our Cuban Heritage traditions going, especially those that involve family and food.

 

Question: Is there anything you would want others to know about Hispanic Heritage Month?

Sam: A lot of people are confused about why Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15 and ends on October 15! It’s because many countries celebrate Independence Day on September 15 – 16 and Mexico celebrates Race Day on October 12!

Stella: I am originally from the Philippines, which culturally is a combination of Asian + Hispanic influences. I love and support Hispanic Heritage month as an ally and homage to my Spanish background… my maiden name is Araya and my mother’s maiden name is Espinosa – both my mother and father’s sides have Spanish ancestors.

Kimberly: For me, Hispanic Heritage month is a reminder of what my Grandparents experienced when they were growing up. They were born in Mexico, emigrated to America, and believed if they worked hard and remain dedicated, they could see their American Dream come true. In 1964, my dad and grandfather did just that when they co-founded Ruiz Foods. Over 50 years later, we employ over 4,000 Team Members in five manufacturing facilities in the United States. We remain committed to provide our consumer with great tasting food and I am proud to say our El Monterey frozen Mexican food is #1 in the marketplace.

Araceli: Hispanic Heritage Month gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate the importance of Hispanic and Latinx cultural and leadership contributions to communities throughout the United States.

Eric: Hispanic Heritage Month is such an amazing time to share with others about Hispanic culture and history. I love the teaching aspect of the month – if you are ever unsure why we celebrate, just ask, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for me, my family and friends, love using Hispanic Heritage Month as a moment to teach others and spread the knowledge.

 

Question: What is your dream Hispanic brand to be featured in-app?

Sam: Jumex! They have lots of juices that I drank growing up as a kid! My favorite is Mango.

Stella: It would be a dream to have Hispanic destinations/countries/states with high Hispanic population featured in the app. As far as brands are concerned, I think our shoppers would also love cerveza, chips and salsa brands!

Araceli: My dream Hispanic brand to be featured in-app would have to be Jarritos. The fruit-flavored sodas from Mexico pair great with any dish, especially tacos!

Eric: Café Bustelo! It’s our go-to k-cup brand of coffee. My mom might think I’m crazy for choosing Café Bustelo in the morning over traditional Cuban Coffee, but it packs a punch. Bring them in the app, please.

 

We are so proud to have a diverse group of employees, users, and partners here at Shopkick. We celebrate all cultures and differences, and we are thrilled to be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! The Shopkick app has been a great place to showcase and celebrate Latinx brands and foods like Siete Foods, El Monterey, Tyson tortillas, Ulta Beauty’s Latin-founded brands, Walmart’s Hispanic-focused books, and many more. No matter your tradition or heritage, at Shopkick, we celebrate your authentic background and look forward to many more celebrations.

 

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Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.