Carlos Alcantara has a lot to be thankful for. A man who has forged his own path through life from a humble origin in his native Peru, he is now the CEO of the Chalaco Group, a successful food products national distributor. He is also a member of the boar

Carlos Alcantara: bringing Peru right to your table: Carlos Alcantara has a lot to be thankful for. A man who has forged his own path through life from a humble origin in his native Peru, he is now the CEO of the Chalaco Group, a successful food products national distributor. He is also a member of the board of directors at the New America Alliance

Wendy Pedrero

As a child, Carlos attended private school in Peru. When he finished high school, WR Graves, an agricultural export company based in the US with a local branch in Peru, offered him a scholarship to attend school in the US in exchange for placement within the company’s Peru branch upon completion of his degree. Carlos accepted the scholarship and came to the US, where he obtained a BBA in Business and Economics. Because of political changes in Peru at the time, however, WR Graves was forced to close operations in Peru, thus liberating Carlos to pursue his own future without any ties to his home country.

In the US, Alcantara thrived in the corporate world. He worked for Procter & Gamble for 21 years doing assignments that took him over 21 countries. He also worked for the Clorox Company, where he became vice president of Latin America and finally with Penzoil, where he was the president of the international division before Shell Oil acquired it in 2001.

It was during these years that Carlos met his most recent business partner, who incidentally, is also his wife. “I had gotten on the plane, and we were all sitting down, ready to go, and in walks this lady with all these bags causing a ruckus, so I looked at her, she came over, sat down next to me, shook my hand, and introduced herself. We talked all the way to Miami. When we got there, I don’t know why, I asked her if she would accompany me to a function later. She said yes, and we’ve been together ever since.”

His wife Shanda, a hotelier, restaurateur, and gourmet cook in her own right, showed interest in Carlos’s culture and traditional foods right away. In 1998, having become fascinated with the flavors of Peruvian cuisine, Shanda traveled to Peru, where she attended the Lima Culinary Institute, a leading institution in Peruvian cuisine. This gave origin to their new enterprise: The Chalaco Corporation. Chalaco refers to the name given to the people who were born in Carlos’s hometown.

Today, the Chalaco Corporation is a privately owned company that imports products directly from Peru to be distributed nationwide in the US. Their line of products, called aha! and composed mostly of pepper-based sauces and pastes, can be found in national grocery chains such as Kroger, Albertsons, and Safeway.

But there is one more thing about Carlos Alcantara that stands out from the rest. Aware of the needs of his people in Peru and forever grateful for the opportunity that he was given in his younger years, the Alcantaras have founded the Chalaco Foundation, a fund that contributes to the betterment of education in Peru. “I thought that now that I have achieved all this success and life is good, the least I can do is help out those who do not have the chances I had. We should help our brothers in need, that’s part of what we’re here for.” A philanthropist whose love and respect for his community remains as strong as ever after all these years, Carlos Alcantara is yet another excellent example of the driving force of the NAA today.

Photos courtesy of The Chalaco Corporation

Wendy Pedrero

Houston, Texas

COPYRIGHT 2004 Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

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