The winners of the Bread Heroes campaign by Tiptree World Bread Awards USA supported by the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) were announced on Wednesday November 3, 2021 in a special online awards evening, celebrating the incredible endeavors of the bread community. 

The Overall Winner was Manolo Betancur of Manolo’s Bakery in Charlotte, North Carolina. Manolo, who came to the USA 20 years ago with very little money, a handful of clothing and no English, has worked hard to rise from washing dishes to today owning a thriving bakery business.

After arriving from Columbia, Manolo spent his first few months working odd jobs in Miami. He then went on to win a scholarship to study at King University, Tennessee and graduated with a BA in Modern Languages.

A few years later, and with more experience under his belt, Manolo moved to Charlotte, NC, where he became involved in the city’s first Hispanic bakery. In 2011 he bought that bakery, and seven years later he renamed it Manolo’s Bakery. 

Today, the bakery is thriving; it produces over 65 types of artisan breads and a vast variety of cakes and desserts. Manolo’s supplies baked goods to more than 100 stores, restaurants and supermarkets in North Carolina and Virginia. 

Manolo is a strong believer in supporting his local community. His bakery’s vision is: Nuestro Pan, Nuestra Gente, Nuestro Futuro (Our Bread, Our People, Our Future).

As part of his support for the local community, Manolo’s donate 10 percent of their profits from the week of Epiphany (the most profitable time of the year for the bakery) to a local charity. In 2021, the team decided to donate thermal blankets to Charlotte’s homeless neighbors in the encampments uptown.

Reflecting on what lies ahead Manolo says, "With so much going on and all the uncertainty, many think they can’t change what’s happening around them, but with the right support, we can change our future by creating opportunities that will allow us to grow and keep dreaming."

In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrates the bread; hundreds of loaves would be delivered to Manhattan for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Building on the great success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the USA’s Bread Heroes, the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers, to bakers and educators. 

Nominations for the Bread Heroes came in from across the USA. "All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others," said Stephen Hallam, chairman of the judges. 

This year’s illustrious judging panel, chaired by Hallam, included Zachary Golper, Baker and James Beard Foundation Award nominee; Bien Cuit; Dana Cowin, founder, Speaking Broadly; and Maurizio Leo, The Perfect Loaf.

Five regional winners were selected by the judging panel. These ranged from Mo Cheeks of Bread & Justice in Madison, WI, whose bread sales profits are all donated to organizations raising awareness for racial justice and working to build a more just society; to Guy Frenkel from Céor Bakery in Los Angeles, CA who founded the Cast Your Bread collective which gathers up donated loaves from bakers all over LA and distributes them to charities.

In addition to the regional awards, there were a selection of special awards. These included the Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award, IBIE Innovation Award, Brook Bake Dream Team Award, Home Baker Bread Hero, and Sustainability Hero.

‘We’ve been exporting Tiptree jam to the USA for decades, and in normal times I’d be popping over to meet the retailers and bakers who use our products,’ said Scott Goodfellow, joint managing director, Tiptree. "I can’t do that right now, but what I can do is recognise the contribution that American bakers have made to their communities in challenging times. It’s inspiring to read their stories."

One of the judging panel, Babette Kourelos, owner, baker, and educator @Babette's Bread said, "These stories serve as a reminder of the versatility of bread and the immense generosity of bakers."