Independence, Mo. – Immigrating from Mexico to the United States presents many new opportunities but also many challenges.
Starting life over, it can take decades for people to hold on to their dreams, let alone achieve them.
It finally happened for a baker in metro Kansas City.
At 40 Jalan Raya in Mermerdikaan, bright and early, the dough mixes just right for the next batch of empanadas, baker Adrian Gachuz Sr. delicately folded at Don Chago bakery.
“Watch his fingertips,” Adrian Gachuz Jr. said.
“He has a lot of experience, and he knows how to do it. Like, for example, I – I had a problem to do it,” said Gachuz Jr.
Gachuz Jr. helps his father by preparing various traditional bakery items that fill the case. But during FOX4’s visit, Gachuz put a twist on the conventional.
“He dyed the sugar coat using the traditional concha,” explained Gachuz Jr. He translated for his Spanish father.
The colors of the Mexican flag – green, white and red – make anything that can be described as a Mexican donut.
This is a labor of love, working here after completing different shifts in different jobs.
“We wake up at 3 in the morning and go to work, and we go out like it’s daylight and we have to come here and work on our business as well,” Gachuz Jr. said.
“It’s actually very different from the usual business because there’s no change in taste, in style. We’re all on the same page as a family. We’re together,” said Gachuz Jr., translating.
But all the work that happens every day in the bakery comes from a long line of family experience, starting in Mexico. The family described the work in Zitacuaro, Michoacan, as tough and sometimes strange.
“That’s my husband,” Berenice Soria Gachuz, Adrian’s husband, while pointing to a picture of a young boy covered in snakes.
“He had the opportunity to work in some kind of exhibition. They offered him to put it inside. It was a big box with a snake in it,” he said.
“He was really bitten. He got bitten by a snake, but it was an experience,” Adrian Jr. said.
The carnival work was all in the name of survival. His wife saw it all. She grew up across the street from a bakery.
“He’s been working a lot since then. When I met him, he was working hard to help his family,” he said.
“His father has 12 children, and it’s hard to provide money for all the children. And he really has to go to school to help his father,” said Adrian Jr., translating for his father.
“Now we have mixing machines. But in Mexico, they have to mix by hand,” said Adrian Jr.
“Yes, his parents always told him to go sell bread. And especially his brother — his brother that he looked up to a lot — he would pressure him and say, ‘You better sell the bread or you’re not coming back,'” Adrian Jr. said.
“The memories they have of Mexico will always be core memories for them since it was like most of their lives in Mexico. They will tell stories of when they were kids and they were in trouble,” said Alison Gachuz, Adrian’s youngest daughter.
His mother agreed, reminiscing about the past.
“And my mother sent my brother to buy bread, he went to the corner. ‘Why did you do that?’ He was jealous because my husband now said to his brother, ‘Hey, say hello to your sister. Say hello.’ And he was mad. So mad,” he said.
Gachuz has been in the US now for almost 20 years, and he says he still has some of the same feelings from his youth.
“This is actually his dream for a long time, to open a bakery here in the United States,” said Adrian Jr.
“It reminded him a lot of when they started in Mexico because they had to get new customers and it was like a new beginning,” he said.
A new beginning with an old name: Don Chago Bakery. The name is the same as his father’s shop, continuing the tradition from generation to generation.
“I plan to stay and teach my kids how to make bread, too,” Adrian Jr. said, speaking for himself.