Mexican 'Panadero' Carries Family Tradition to the Next Generation

“Panadero” is a portrait series that documents the fatherly legacy of a baker. As a child, Abundio Torres’ apprenticeship began in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico with his father and grandfather. Now as a grandfather, Abundio teaches his grandchildren the art of pan dulce. A testament to his devotion to his father’s profession. Craftsmanship and passion in a profession, what better gift could a father share? “I have 33 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Six of them are interested in making bread. One day they will say, my abuelo taught me.” Evident in his pictures, Abundio takes pride in sharing his profession his children and grandchildren.

Abundio folding dough. (Cristian Heredia)

“I grew up around older men in their fifties and seventies, teaching me how to make bread in my dad’s bakery. At five years old, I would stand on a box so I could reach the dough workbench and stand next to my dad. I learned to sleep on the flour sacks, underneath the workbench, wherever. I followed the panaderos so they could teach me.”

Abundio, at home, next to his oven. (Cristian Heredia)

“I was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. I’m 59. I descend from panaderos (bakers). We are three generations. My grandfather and father were panaderos. In Mexico, at five years old I was working next to my dad.”

Abundio peering into his oven. (Cristian Heredia)

“My best memories are living and working with panaderos. It used to be my four siblings, my mom, and my dad—all panaderos. We were a family. We enjoyed and loved each other. But a lot has changed. Now three aren’t with us: my dad, my mother and one of my brothers. Everything changed.”

Abundio standing over dough mixer. (Cristian Heredia)

“In 1964 in Tamaulipas, my grandparents had a bakery, La Flor de Jalisco. We would make the bread there and then we’d deliver it to groceries stores at 2 and 3 am. My grandmother would tend to the bakery while we were out. With them I learned a lot. They taught me to knead dough by hand. We didn’t have machines. There you had to work by hand, no machines. We had stone ovens, not modern ones like they do here. Now they have machines for everything. For me, it’s all the same, by hand or machine.”

Abundio displaying pan dulce creation. (Cristian Heredia)

“We came to the United States in 1972. I was fourteen years old and working in a bakery. That’s my profession. There was everything there, happiness. I enjoyed making bread. I was proud to sell it. It was my art.”

Abundio ready for service, over a stack of trays. (Cristian Heredia)

“In Mexico, I have memories of selling bread in the ranches. And here in the U.S., out of our trucks. More than 50 years baking bread. I enjoy it to this day.”

Adrian Torres (left) and Christopher Torres (center) help Abundio (right) rack bread. (Cristian Heredia)

“To this day, I still make bread for all of my children and grandchildren. Yes, I want my grandchildren to continue the tradition. I have 33 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Six of them are interested in making bread. One day they will say, my abuelo taught me.”

Abundio Torres (center) with grandchildren Adrian Torres (left) and Christopher Torres (right). (Cristian Heredia)


Cristian Heredia is a California-based social documentary photographer. He earned an Electrical Engineering Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. His projects aim to visually explore culture.