Manolo Betancur, owner and chief executive officer of Manolo’s Bakery in Charlotte, NC, has been named the overall winner in the Tiptree World Bread Awards Heroes USA 2021. The award, which is supported by the International Bakery Industry Exposition, recognizes bakers, millers, farmers and others in the grain-based foods industry who are helping their communities.

In recognizing Betancur, the World Bread Awards said Manolo’s Bakery donated thermal blankets to Charlotte’s homeless neighbors in the encampments uptown. Betancur also worked with his employees during the pandemic to make sure every child in Mecklenburg County had a cake on their birthday.

“We cannot change what is happening around us, but we can change how kids remember their birthday during the pandemic,” Betancur says. “With so much going on and all the uncertainty, many think they can’t change what’s happening around them, but with the right support, we can change our future by creating opportunities that will allow us to grow and keep dreaming.”

In addition to Betancur, the World Bread Awards recognized several other leaders from different regions of the United States, including:

  • Midwest: Mo Cheeks, Bread & Justice, Madison, Wis.
  • Northeast: Shiri Reuveni-Ullrich, Rising Above Bakery, Bergen County, NJ.
  • West: Guy Frenkel, Cast Your Bread, Los Angeles
  • Southwest: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Runners-up in the different regions included:
  • Midwest: Paul Edward Montador, The Scotsman’s Kitchen & Bakery, Urbana, Ill., and Josh Allen, Companion Baking, St. Louis
  • Northeast: The Flour Girl Bakery, Hebron, Conn.
  • West: Community Grains, Oakland, Calif.
  • Southwest: Tychiko Cox, Broken Breadhaus, Chandler, Ariz.
  • Southeast: Leah Lonsbury, Just Bakery of Atlanta, and Niedlov’s Bakery, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Guy Frenkel also was recognized with the Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award and the IBIE Innovation Award.

Meanwhile, Shiri Reuveni-Ullrich was awarded the Brook Bake Dream Team award, Veda Karlo was named the Home Baker Bread Hero and Josh Allen was recognized as the Sustainability Hero.

A total of 35 judges took part in the evaluation of the nomination submissions, including Dennis Gunnell, chair of the IBIE and president of Formost Fuji Corp.; Judith Norell, owner of Silver Moon Bakery; Amy Scherber, founder and president of Amy’s Bread; and Jorge Zarat, senior vice president of global operations and engineering at Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV.

For more information on the awards, click here.