Pablo Olavarrieta, Baker: From Journalist to Baker in Just One Pandemic

By Carolina de la Cajiga

In short, this is the story behind the bakery “Just Sourdough.” Pablo Olavarrieta, the owner, took this leap in 2020 when his journalism work began to die out. Despair and frustration often open new paths that are difficult to recognize when you only see a gray present and a black future.

Making bread did not come to Pablo with calculation tables and financial returns, but simply because of the desire to eat healthily and deliciously. With the arrival of the pandemic, bakeries closed, and he was forced to buy commercial bread, something he had avoided for years since the yeast used to speed up the process is likely the cause of the gluten controversy. Having learned about the benefits of ancestral sourdough, and its sensory and nutritional benefits, led him to look for alternatives. Trying to distract his mind from his economic problems and to satisfy his palate and maintain his health, he began to watch online videos to learn how to make sourdough bread. 

The process was not easy, says Pablo. It would have been more efficient and faster to take a face-to-face course, but, obviously, during the pandemic, this was not viable nor economical. Sourdough is something alive that requires dedication and love. If the dough is not at its right point, forming the loaves is almost impossible since it sticks to the hands and to any surface. The first breads came out over-fermented, with a very hard crust, and bland. He ended up eating a lot of stale bread as he didn’t want to waste any. It was daunting, but he did not give up. During the entire adventure, Diana, his wife, has been his moral and physical support and sounding board, as well as the delivery person.

When he finally managed to bake bread that was consistently appetizing and pretty to look at, he posted photos on his social media. Cony Loreto, a friend who works at Deli Q, saw them and invited him to deliver bread for them to sell. Friends knowledgeable about the ancient European traditional breads immediately began to buy. The first big step was taken. His effort and stubbornness paid off. Something that started as a distraction became a business in a relatively short time.

It’s not that he now flows in milk and honey. He continues learning and experimenting. His equipment is artisanal, and he has to juggle to produce the requests from the various shops and restaurants he now supplies, in addition to having his own stall at Los Frailes market. The next stage will be to acquire professional equipment and get a more suitable space.

The production includes loaves of different flavors, such as cranberries and walnuts, multigrain (the bestseller), fluffy brioches, decadent chocolate cookies, and delicious scones and bagels. Of course, all based on sourdough.

You can buy “Just Sourdough” bread at Deli Q, in Colonia Guadalupe; Orgánica La Sabina’s two locations, and Luna de Queso, as well as directly from him at Los Frailes market on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. 

To keep up abreast with Pablo’s future endeavors and promotions, visit JustSourdoughSMA in Facebook.

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