Just as food reflects an area’s culture, so do passionate food artisans. It’s been a decade since I met the irrepressible Pratt Morales, at his Golden Crown Panaderia, in Albuquerque's Old Town. Rising dough, sweet cinnamon, and pungent green chiles perfumed the air inside, where the wiry Morales removed freshly baked cookies, sugar-dusted cherry empanadas, and rustic signature green chile bread.
During our early morning visit Pratt’s adult son, Christopher, shared samples of the bakery's legendary freshly baked biscochitos - New Mexico's state cookie. Please join me as I recall our visit and celebrate the founder of this now-50-year-old bakery:
Inside an adobe building painted with bright pastel flowers and the names of baked goods such as 'empañadas' and 'pan dulce,' Pratt Morales rarely stops moving while he talks with curious customers. "We focus on nutritious, delicious, and beautiful products," he says, as he lays a cooled green chile loaf in a basket of brilliant hued chiles. Pratt says his bread is fit for a king, which is why Golden Crown became part of the bakery's name.
Born and raised in San Antonio, baking captured Morales’ heart while he worked with the Air Force and the New Mexico Air National Guard. He then studied bread baking all over the world before opening Golden Crown Panaderia Neighborhood Bakery. Since 1972, he has inhabited a world full of rising dough, sweet cinnamon, and pungent green chiles.
Pratt has created bread dough horse-drawn carriages, and full-sized turkeys that bear an uncanny resemblance to real birds, and his sculpted bread was featured on Food Network's Food Finds show. The bakery has also supplied local businesses with biscochitos, pastries, sculpted bread, and pizza, for decades, including the Hyatt Hotel and Albuquerque Convention Center, "A little bakery like this is an art that should be preserved and shared with future generations," Pratt says.
A single father, Pratt sometimes allowed four-year-old Christopher to sleep on massive flour sacks. By age five or six, the boy greeted customers and helped to fill cookie bags. Today, Christopher is Golden Crown's general manager and architect of the bakery's thriving Internet business, with customers from as far away as Beijing, Buenos Aires, and Moscow.
At the bakery, daily, Pratt attributes his boundless energy to his love of sports, and passion for his work. He runs for exercise, snowshoes, paddles a kayak, rides his bicycle, and walks wherever he can. 'I believe the mind controls the body," Pratt says. "Find your passion and you won't grow old."
Please note: As is common in the travel industry, I may have received accommodations and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this post, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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