Don Guerra of Barrio Bread in Tucson, Arizona has been named the winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker Award, which recognizes a baker of bread, pastries or desserts who displays exceptional skill. The award presentation was made June 13 as part of The James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards held in Chicago.
“We are thrilled that Don, who is most deserving of this award, has won,” says Felipe Garcia, president and chief executive officer of Visit Tucson. “Don’s devotion to his craft is integral to Tucson’s thriving culinary scene, and a significant part of why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2015.”
A longtime baker who owned two successful bakeries in the 1990s, Guerra shifted his focus to teaching in an elementary school for seven years before returning to baking in 2009. At that time, he established Barrio Bread out of his garage. According to Visit Tucson, Guerra’s bakery has flourished because of his “steadfast commitment to using superlative ingredients and his magnanimous spirit of feeding his neighbors his earliest loaves.”
“All of my creations are rooted in my passion for producing superior baked goods that tell the story of Tucson,” Guerra says. “I am humbled to have been selected as the winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker award. This award exemplifies the unwavering support I’ve received from so many people, including my family and those in the community — the patrons, the farmers, my staff, and the restaurants that serve Barrio Bread’s products.”In addition to Barrio Bread, Guerra has partnered with Carlotta Flores of El Charro Café to open a string of a new businesses, including Barrio Charro and most recently The Monica, which debuted this spring. The duo was recently featured in the Season 19 finale episodes of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” which was filmed in Tucson.