INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Immigrating from Mexico to the United State presents a lot of new opportunities but also many challenges.
Restarting their lives, it can take decades for people to put their dreams into reach, much less achieve them.
It’s finally happening for one baker in the Kansas City metro.
On 40 Highway in Independence, bright and early, the dough mixes just right for the next batch of empanadas baker Adrian Gachuz Sr. delicately folds at Don Chago Bakery.
“Pay attention to his fingertips,” Adrian Gachuz Jr. said.
“He has a lot of experience, and he knows how to do it very well. Like, for example, me — I have trouble doing that,” Gachuz Jr. said.
Gachuz Jr. helps his dad by prepping for the wide variety of traditional bakery items that fill their cases. But during FOX4’s visit, Gachuz put a twist on the conventional.
“He’s coloring the sugar coat that goes on the traditional concha,” Gachuz Jr. explained. He translated for his Spanish-speaking father.
The colors of the Mexican flag — green, white and red — go on what could simply be described as a Mexican donut.
It’s labor of love, working here after completing a different shift at a different job.
“We wake up at 3 in the morning and go to work, and we get out like at noon and we have to come here and work on our business as well,” Gachuz Jr. said.
“It’s actually very different from a regular business because there’s no change in flavor, in style. We’re all on the same page as a family. We’re together,” Gachuz Jr. said, translating.
But all of the work that happens every day at the bakery comes from a long line of family experience, starting in Mexico. The family describes the work in Zitacuaro, Michoacan, as tough and also sometimes strange.
“That’s my husband,” Berenice Soria Gachuz, Adrian’s husband, said as she pointed to a picture of a young boy covered in snakes.
“He had the opportunity to work in some kind of fair. They offer him to put inside. It was a big box with the snakes inside,” she said.
“He actually got bitten. He got a snake bite, 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 the bakery.
“He worked so hard since then. When I met him, he was working so hard to help his family,” she said.
“His father had 12 kids, and it was really hard to give money around for all the kids. And he actually had to leave school to help out his dad,” Adrian Jr. said, translating for his father.
“Right now we have mixing machines. But in Mexico, they had to mix by hand,” Adrian Jr. said.
“Yeah, his parents would basically tell him to go sell the bread. And specifically his brother — his older brother who he looks up to a lot — he would pressure him and say, ‘You better sell the bread or you won’t come back,'” Adrian Jr. said.
“The memories they have of Mexico will always be like core memories for them since it was like most of their life in Mexico. They would say stories about when they were kids and they were getting in trouble,” Alison Gachuz, Adrian’s youngest daughter, said.
Her mother concurred, remembering the past.
“And when my mom send my brother to buy the bread, he goes around the corner. ‘Why you do that?’ He was jealous because my now-husband tell my brother, ‘Hey, say hi to your sister. Say hi.’ And he was mad. So mad,” she said.
Gachuz has been in the U.S. now almost 20 years, and he said he still has some of the same feelings from his youth.
“It’s actually a dream he’s had for a really long time, opening a bakery here in the United States,” Adrian Jr. said.
“It reminds him a lot of when they started in Mexico because they have to get new customers and it’s like a fresh new start,” he said.
A new start with an old name: Don Chago Bakery. It’s the same name as his father’s shop, continuing a generational tradition.
“I plan on keeping it going and teaching my kids as well how to make bread,” Adrian Jr. said, speaking for himself.