Fresh spices and a community kitchen thrive at Mano Y Metate

This post guest written by LFA Community Outreach Intern, Hannah Aljuaid

Arizona is a growing state with much to offer under its warm sunny skies, and local business owners are certainly taking advantage of all the state has to offer. A great example of this is local business owner Amy Valdés Schwemm of Mano Y Metate. Schwemm first started her Tucson business in 2007 when she realized that the local store she was working for at the time, Native Seed Search, lacked powdered mole, a required ingredient for traditional meals.  Realizing the community had a great demand for the product and no means of satisfying the supply, Schwemm decided to go into business for herself.  

    With support from family and friends,  Schwemm obtained a loan to open Mano Y Metate.   She built and perfected her recipes through trial and error.  She enrolled in micro business advancement and small business classes to learn how to obtain the necessary permits to open a business.

Nine years later, Mano Y Metate is still a one-woman show. Schwemm carefully collects many of the local natural ingredients that are used to make the mole. Preparing the ingredients, grinding the ingredients so as to create it into powder, packaging, as well as the distribution of the final product is all done by Schwemm.  Overseeing the preparation from start to finish enables her to create the best quality products.

Currently, she features moles in six flavors:

Mole Dulce a blend of  Mexican chocolate, chiles, almonds and spices.

Mole Verde with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, green chiles and epazote.

Pipian Rojo with chiles, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried cane juice, onion, garlic.

Adobo with chiles, sesame seeds, spices, Mexican oregano.

Mole Negro with chiles, pecans, walnuts, prunes, onion, garlic, cacao nibs.

Pipian Picante with chiles, pumpkin seeds, almonds, garlic, salt, sesame seed.

The moles are available at several local retailers including Native Seeds Search, Food Conspiracy Co-op and Petroglyphs Gallery. They can also be ordered online through the website.

At Mano Y Metate the business continued to grow. Needing more space,  Schwemm opted to invest in a commercial kitchen when the warehouse she was renting  from closed down due to road expansions in the area forcing out all the renters.

Understanding she was probably not the only business to experience circumstances such as these, Schwemm saw an opportunity to provide a stable workspace not just for herself but also for other local businesses in the community by opening a commercial kitchen.  

Those interested in renting space at the community kitchen can email Schwemm directly at [email protected].

Get to know your local mole and check out great recipes like this one at -

Quesadillas with Mole

Tortillas, corn or flour

Cheese, one that melts or at least turns stringy

1 batch Mano Y Metate mole, any variety. See Basic Directions.

Optional toppings:

Fresh squash blossoms, whole or sliced

Nopalitos (freshly cooked or from a jar, rinsed and dried)

Sliced avocado

Scallion rings

Heat tortilla on a dry griddle or skillet on medium high. After the bottom starts to turn brown, flip and cover scantily with grated or crumbled cheese. Add toppings if desired. Fold in half or leave open. Cook until bottom starts to color and cheese is melting. Drizzle with mole, and enjoy!