TUCSON, Ariz. — Don Guerra has been serving his bread to the Tucson community for decades. All of his bread is a reflection of the Southern Arizona desert and it’s history. Now he's being recognized as one of the best bakers in the country.
Almost every day for the last 30 years, Don Guerra wakes up at 4 a.m. to begin making bread.
“You’re working with these ingredients that have no life but when you combine water and some sort of leaven, they come alive,” Guerra said.
Guerra has owned three bakeries since the 1990s. In 2009, he began his most recent venture: opening Barrio Bread out of his garage. He’s now one of Tucson’s most renowned bakers.
“I get a chance to truly represent my city, my region, and my heritage.”
Unlike many bakers in an overwhelmingly white industry, Guerra’s roots are intertwined with those of his grains. Guerra only uses wheat that’s grown in the Sonoran desert. His bread comes from the same fields where Spanish missionaries introduced grain in the mid-1600s.
“My dad’s family is from the Sonora region so some of these grains are probably the same wheats that my nana was making tortillas from and my ancestors of the past.”
Outside of his own bakery, Guerra is a partner in Barrio Charro and The Monica downtown. He’s been featured in the New York Times and in Bravo’s “Top Chef” season finale.
“Just trying to create this legacy where we’ll always have this here. And make it strong enough to stand up with the roots inside this community.”
But his most recent recognition rises above the rest. On Monday, Don Guerra received the James Beard award for Outstanding Baker. It’s known as the Oscars of the food industry.
“It feels good this award, because I’ve been working 30 years and everyday is passion for me.”
And that’s only the beginning. Guerra says he’s expanding his retail and baking operations in July and plans to launch an online platform with delivery across the United States.
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