Taking a bite in the spotlight: from Mexico to Durham, a bakery’s story

By: Saul Janiak-Stein and Norah Lubeck

From a mountainside scene to a corner side store, the Del Castillos have been baking for their community.  

There’s a bakery in Pahuatlan, a small town in Puebla, Mexico. Its owners, the Del Castillo family, use a furnace on the side of a mountain in the little town to make bread for its people.

“The line would start and we would start feeding the town,” said Kevin Del Castillo whose Grandparents ran the Bakery in Mexico. Currently he is one of the main bakers at the French Corner Bakery.

Alex (left) and Kevin (right) Del Castillo pose with bread. They own the French Corner Bakery in Durham. Photo by Saul Janiak-Stein.

Kevin and his brother, Alex Del Castillo come from a family of bakers and they always loved baking with their mom.

“[It was] only a matter of time before we opened our own bakery,” Kevin said.

After attending Riverside, Kevin happened upon Chef Benjamin Massaoui, in his bakery one day. The brothers worked under Massaoui, as apprentices, and learned his French recipes. 

When Massaoui decided to retire they bought the bakery and began running it this past January with their mother, Norma Garcia. They took over the bakery after Massaoui was too old, and began working this past January with their mother. 

Just like in Pahuatlan, they wake up at 4 a.m to start making the dough. 

The bakery still has French elements, such as the Baguette and Croissant, but the family added a touch of their own food by introducing a Tres Leches cake, a traditional Mexican dessert. 

Tables in the French Corner Bakery. Alex and Kevin Del Castillo took over the bakery after the old owner retired. Photo by Tate Gasch.

The French Corner Bakery is decorated with multiple miniature Eiffel towers, antique sewing machines repurposed as tables, and other comfortable furniture perfect for lounging or enjoying food. Piano music played in the background as we sat to speak with the brothers. 

We had the pleasure of trying a fresh roll they had just baked, which was warm and wonderful. They offer a variety of breads, pastries, and other sweets. 

A checkerboard table decorated with Eiffel towers. The bakery is heavily inspired by both French and Mexican influences. Photo by Tate Gasch.

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