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Chef Alex Peña, Baking Evolution, Los Angeles, California

05/30/2024 4:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Chef Alex Peña grew up to the sound of dough mixing in his family's Mexican bakery, La Morenita, in Los Angeles. We met Chef Alex at Camp Bread last month and spoke with the California native and former Marine about how he became a trained chef, professional bread scientist, and Master baker.   

"My family had a bakery for 20 years in Los Angeles," Chef Alex told the Guild.     

He eventually enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.   There he learned formal French technique, which he incorporated into his work.   

"Eventually, I went on to work for the ingredient side of things at BakeMark."     

He quickly became Bake Mark's Hispanic technician, traveling the world. Eventually, he moved into Research & Development.   

"I developed some of the dry mixes you still see being used today to make Mexican breads," he said.     

Today, Chef Alex, the Director of Product Development for Bellarise, helps many household-name bakeries keep their bakes consistent.    

"I develop not only conditioners but different solutions for the baking industry," he said.     

In 2020, he launched Baking Evolution, an at-home baking school focused on teaching the art and history of Mexican breads.  

"Baking Evolution is designed to help polish professional bakers and cultivate new bakers throughout the industry," he said. "My main focus at this time is Mexican bread. So, I'm walking the students through the five different categories of Mexican bread, talking about its evolution and history. And of course, from my perspective as an artisan baker, the techniques."  

In April, Chef Alex led a Guild class on the subject of Bizcocho and its history.    

"Bizcocho is the direct descendant of French Brioche," he said. "Bizcocho is the dough used to make the iconic Concha, which means, "seashell," in Spanish.    

Baking Evolution is aptly named for Chef Alex's life in bread. He's continued that journey for himself over the years and hopes to share his knowledge with others.    

"I grew up in the artisan bakery where the sound of the mixer was my guide," he said. “Now, some 30 years later, it's still about development, but it's no longer just the sound. It's the actual windowpane, the dough temperature, etc."    

When it comes to his work with the Guild, he is passionate about the opportunities the organization offers bakers across the country.   

"I'm honored to be part of the education platform," he said. "Just last night, we had a gathering, and I met a gentleman from Ukraine living the dream thanks to the Guild.   We're cultivating that type of environment for the baking industry, which I think is phenomenal."    

Learn more about Chef Alex and Baking Evolution below:    

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