Kitchen Doors: Elevating the Simple
In 2022, Mark Chacón was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award, one of the culinary industry’s most prestigious honors. Although he didn’t win, the unexpected recognition was extremely meaningful.
“A friend called to congratulate me, but I didn’t know why,” he said. “When I found out I was nominated, I was overwhelmed, and I continue to be proud and gratified by the honor.”
Before pastry became his passion, Chacón’s love for the arts started with music. Originally from Maryland, he moved west to attend Arizona State University and study violin. Due to an injury, he changed his major to journalism and, after graduating, wrote for local culinary publications and worked at Whole Foods. He then spent time in the Bay Area, which changed his career plan.
While working as a cake decorator at Whole Foods in the Bay Area, Chacón volunteered to work at Tartine, one of the country’s most renowned bakeries. For months, he brought them treats he made until they agreed to let him intern. With Tartine on his résumé, Chacón had opportunities to work at prominent establishments like Alice Waters’ Café Fanny and Chez Panisse, as well as Belinda Leong’s b. Patisserie.
Chacón wanted to share some of the skills he’d learned, so he worked for the Bread Project, teaching baking to formerly incarcerated people, immigrants and refugees, which he recounts as one of the most rewarding experiences of his career.
Chacón returned to Arizona in 2018 and taught at the Arizona Culinary Institute. A friend put him in contact with pizza icon Chris Bianco. As he did at Tartine, Chacón regularly brought his pastry creations to Bianco and was soon hired to make desserts for Bianco’s restaurants Tratto, Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco.
When Chacón decided to start his business, Bianco was extremely supportive and became a client. Chacón currently provides desserts to several restaurants in the Valley, including Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, Sottisse and Bacanora.
Chacón’s amazing pastries can also be found at the uptown and downtown farmers markets, Futuro in downtown Phoenix, Window Coffee Bar in midtown Phoenix and Moxie Coffee Company in uptown Phoenix. They can also be ordered online and picked up at his kitchen facility in Phoenix.
Chacón’s most popular items include cream cheese danishes, tropical almond croissants with passion fruit and banana, chocolate almond croissants, chocolate brioche, cinnamon rolls and pecan sticky buns.
“I like taking simple things and elevating them,” he said. “Taking a simple offering like a cinnamon roll and making it the best consistently takes a lot of time.”
Chacón has many ideas to build his business, including savory pastries to complement his sweet offerings, elevated ice cream sandwiches and expanding into resorts.
“I’ve been baking for a long time, and I feel technically very capable, which allows me to express my ideas and bring them to fruition,” he said.
To learn more, go to chaconnepatisserie.com.