It happened. It’s finally happened!
After three nominations, Don Guerra of Barrio bread won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Baker, Southwest.”
Don flew to Chicago to attend the ceremony on Saturday, spent time touring the Windy City on Sunday, and early Monday morning was on local Chicago TV talking about not only his techniques and the use of Sonora’s heritage cereals which it uses in its price. -bread winner, but chronicling his rise from a physical education teacher, to his garage baking, to his brick and mortar on Broadway, to now becoming a James Beard winner.
Oh, and he may have mentioned Tucson once in a while.
I had a chance to chat with Don before he left for Chicago and to be honest with you he was a little nervous.
“There are a lot of butterflies right now,” Guerra said.
So I assured him he would win. That he was finally going to win. Then he left. Then three days later he won. This, at present, is Tucson’s second James Beard Trophy, the first awarded to our culinary statesman Janos Wilder. But that was in 2000. That was 22 years ago, not counting our UNESCO nomination as America’s Top Food City in 2015.
It’s so exciting that Don won but let’s not forget that Mary Mazon of BOCA Tacos and Tacos and John Martinez of Tito & Pep were also nominated. Hopefully Tucson will become that hub of James Beard Award winners, and hopefully we can still maintain our integrity as a small town with big values and even bigger ideals when it comes to the sustainable cuisine of the Southwest.
So, kudos to all of our chefs and innovators who continue to amaze and delight our senses with incredible, foundational cuisine that celebrates our heritage and native culture here in the Sonoran Desert.
That said, kudos to Don Guerra – the kindest, hardest working, most generous man who has graced the landscape of Tucson with some of the most talented chefs, bakers and producers this city has to offer the rest of the world.
His bread is only one aspect of this price. His heart is the other 99 percent. That reason alone is why this award means so much to us and to him, we’d guess. Those butterflies must be flying free for him right now.
“All of my creations are rooted in my passion for producing premium baked goods that tell the story of Tucson,” Guerra said. “I am honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Baker Award from the James Beard Foundation. This award exemplifies the unwavering support I have received from so many people, including my family and members of the community – customers , the farmers, my staff and the restaurants that serve Barrio Bread products.
For more information on Don Guerra and Barrio Bread, visit barriobread.com.