Marcos Sierra has a not-so-secret identity in his hometown of The Bronx. He is El Flanadero (in English, roughly, “The Flan Man”). Actually, El Flanadero is the name of Sierra’s company.
For the unfortunate unitiated, flan is a delicious delicacy, a free-standing custard served for dessert throughout the Spanish-speaking world. (The kind of flan we’re talking about here is the one also known as crème caramel, not the savory pies that the British are inclined to call a flan.)
Sierra says he was shocked by his own success when he started in business in November 2011.
“It was received way better than I had anticipated,” he says. “I started in one store and, by the end of 2011, I was in 15 stores. The stores [go] all the way from Gunhill Road, all the way down to 161st Street and Yankee Stadium,” he adds in true Bronx fashion — anybody that it matters to knows just what he means.
Marcos Sierra’s innovation is variety. “Most flan makers make one flavor, that’s vanilla,” he explains. That traditional vanilla flan also has cinnamon and a layer of sugar on the bottom, which melts into a caramel sauce to drizzle over the custard when it’s turned upside down. Marcos has the plain vanilla flan, but he also has coconut, cream cheese, almond, amaretto, pumpkin, hazelnut — the list goes on and on, totaling 20 flavors in all.
El Flanadero started in the annual street fairs that happen throughout The Bronx — local festivals often honoring a Saint’s Day with a carnival stretched along a closed-off street. “I use social medial marketing, word-of-mouth and I market at those street fairs,” he says.