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Mexican bakery in Montreal a testament to community support


Mariana Martin says the best ingredient when it comes to baking is love.

"It's not just cooking it's also the history that these foods have behind it or the culture," she said.

Martin said that she was able to share her culture through her bakery, "Carlota Boulangerie Mexican."

It hasn't been an easy journey.

"A great challenge for me is being a woman baker, and as a Mexican immigrant because the baking industry is mainly composed of French men, so at some points, I'd feel, not rejected, but I felt I didn't belong, and I had to push through," she said.

Despite the pushback, she said she really believed this was the professional path she had to follow.

It's a path that led her all over the world.

First, she studied at New York's "International Culinary Center," and then she went back to her hometown of Mexico City to work under renowned chef Elena Reygadas.

Martin eventually headed to France to learn more about agricology, the study of organic and sustainable farming.

"All the work that's done in the fields to control pests, and how food is produced,and how it impacts the products we consume," she explained.

Her work eventually led her to Montreal, where she had an opportunity to work at another bakery. It was during the pandemic, and as Mariana put it, "after three years or so, it doesn't go as planned."

The bakery closed and Mariana was out of a job.

"I needed help. I was waiting for my permanent residency," she said.

The local Mexican community rallied around her, and fellow Mexican entrepreneur Claudia Vega offered her an opportunity at her café.

"She was like, 'No! You cannot go back to Mexico you need to keep baking bread for us. What do you need, I'm going to help you out," said Martin.

For Vega, the partnership was a way of paying it forward.

"Somebody helped me to do my project and I think that's the only way you can go forward," she said.

Martin has certainly made her mark.

"My project started growing so much it couldn't fit at her coffee shop," she said. "It was really hard but also exciting to realize that it was the moment to fly out of the nest."

Her mile-end bakery is thriving despite tough economic times, and once again, it's in part to the community that welcomed her with open arms.

"I started my project very small and it has been growing very organically," said Martin. "So before I opened my business, I had a clientele that was supporting me; they had my back. Especially Mexicans."

Vega said Mariana's success is a win for their community.

"It's super nice and makes us very proud to see someone from our country, as a Mexican, someone at such a young age, with so much to give," said Vega.

The 27-year-old Martin looks back on her journey humbly.

"Years later, being capable of realizing how far I've come because someone was willing to give me a hand," she said.

Martin is also giving others a hand by featuring local Mexican artists and vendors in her bakery as a way to pay it forward herself. Top Stories

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