Tamale Twins

So many small business owners are such optimistic, courageous and passionate people. They take something they love to do and with some creativity, a bit of capital and lots of hard work and turn it into a stream of income.

That’s exactly what friends Irene Parkhurst and Jan Sevin are doing with their talent and love for making tamales. Their tamale stand, Tamale Twins, operating on the corner of West Esplanade and Edenborn, has a large coterie of loyal customers.

“We use a 40-year-old recipe to make a simple and clean tamale,” says Parkhurst, who works full-time as a pulmonary rehab therapist at East Jefferson General Hospital. “It’s a joy seeing our regulars and the new faces everyday and seeing them enjoying our tamales.”

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Making tamales is a time-consuming and labor-intensive venture. Made of a dough called masa that is steamed in a cornhusk or banana leaf, tamales can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables or chilies. They are as diverse as the countries that prepare them: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Peru to name just a few.

Women have been gathering family and friends to hold a “tamalada,” or tamale-cooking session for centuries. These family functions give everyone involved a chance to socialize. Tamales parties have become just as important as eating tamales.

Throughout the years, Parkhurst and Sevin say they always enjoyed their many successful tamale parties. So, with the avid encouragement of friends and family, the cooks turned their love of tamales into a business last December and it has steadily grown in popularity.

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“We are hoping to soon add more locations, Uptown and places beyond,” says Parkhurst.

Because Tamale Twins is so popular, the partners now use Cello’s Restaurant to form their masterpieces. Michael Marcello, Cello’s owner and head chef, and his staff follow the “twin’s” slow-cooked recipe to the T. 

“Our tamales are two-thirds beef and one-third pork, handmade and hand-rolled and slow cooked fresh every day,” Parkhurst says.

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Tamale Twins will also do large orders for celebrations and gatherings, they just need three day’s notice.

“We are known for our flavor, the fact that we have more meat content than corn meal, and the fact that we simmer slowly,” says Parkhurst. “We can tell we are successful by the smiles on our customers’ faces.”


Did you know?

Tamale is derived from the Aztec word “tamalii” which means wrapped food. It’s said that the first tamales were made to accommodate the warriors’ need for more portable, yet, sustainable food.



Tamale Twins

West Esplanade & Edenborn

Tuesday-Thursday 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

(504) 884-4018



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