Helping Monarchs Prosper by Munching on Conchitas
Magaly Avila | La Monarca Bakery & Cafe
Kneaded: L.A. Bread Stories, celebrates L.A. history, heritage, and communities through the lens of bread.
La Monarca Bakery has become a staple coffee house throughout L.A., bringing Mexican culture and panes dulces to diverse people across our county. Baking Manager Magaly Avila she shares a bit about developing her skills as a baker, her pride in helping to create concha-centered memories for little ones in L.A., and the important work that La Monarca does to support conservation efforts of monarch butterflies.
It doesn't feel like a job anymore. It feels like I’m with friends and showing them what I’ve learned, so they can continue to show others as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Magaly Avila. I went to Le Cordon Bleu and have a degree in baking and patisserie. I began as a lead baker at the La Monarca Hollywood location, and I am now the baking manager for La Monarca. I get to work with and train all the bakers in our 12 locations. I have been dedicated to La Monarca for eight years now and I absolutely love what I do. I’ve learned so much these past eight years—it doesn't even feel like a job anymore. It just feels like I’m with friends and showing them what I’ve learned, so they can continue to show others as well. Even though we’re at different locations, everyone is growing their skills together—it is a very rewarding feeling.
Avila with her colleagues at the Le Cordon Bleu graduation.
Avila and her partner at her graduation from Le Cordon Bleu.
During her program, Avila had the opportunity to meet Chef Gordon Ramsey!
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Our team upholds La Monarca’s values—kindness, generosity, attitude, dedication, and humility. Our dedication is felt [in the hours we work], because we start work at 2:00 a.m. and have pan dulce ready for all the customers once we open at 6:00 a.m.— it takes a lot of heart. It’s funny that when you open those oven doors and the smell of the bread is just in your face—you have to try not to eat it all!
How did La Monarca get started?
Señor Alfredo Livas and Señor Ricardo Cervantes founded La Monarca. Their inspiration was the pan dulce and the pastries they enjoyed growing up in Mexico. Their mission is baking delicious products with the sweet flavor of Mexico, create opportunities in underserved communities, and also care for our environment.
Can you tell me a little about the monarch butterfly conservation efforts happening at La Monarca?
Sure! La Monarca has a partnership with EcoLife Conservation, which is based in Michoacan, Mexico. We donate a percentage of our total sales to EcoLife Conservation to help the programs to protect and preserve the monarch butterfly.
How do you believe the conchas you make bind people in the community together?
The concha is a staple to the Mexican community. They bring family and friends together, and there is joy and happiness once you take that first bite. These happy feelings can jog a memory that I think all of us have in common and is what binds us together. Although we’re a Mexican bakery, we are for everybody.
I see it a lot when the kids come in with their parents. The kids look at the bread right away, you see their little fingers like just pointing at the colorful conchitas. And while it’s a small moment, it’s really cute to see them get all excited over this little pastry.
Are there any memories or emotions that arise while making the conchas?
You know, it does. Especially when I would go visit my grandparents in Mexico. That was always a huge highlight for me. A moment I always remember is, walking down a hill going to the panadería, getting our big bags of conchitas and then going back home. We’d have hot chocolate and sit in a circle together and just enjoy each other's company. So conchitas bring a lot of warmth and familiarity.
Is there a part of the baking process that is your favorite?
It would probably be when we get to take the conchas out of the oven. At the stores, we get the conchas in the stage where we have to proof them. To walk you through the process, we have to let the conchas rise and once we proof them, then we get to bake them. I love when you actually see them cooking through the window. You know, they begin to fluff up, getting a little bit golden brown. The smell is amazing. But I think for sure my favorite part is when they come out of the oven. Once you see that finished product, especially in this case, a whole big tray of conchitas!
Is there anything you would like folks to know about the communities you serve?
I want everyone to know our values of kindness, generosity, attitude, dedication, and humility. So as a bakery, we all do our best every day to uphold these values in our communities, and we’re here to help our communities in whatever way we can. Whether it’s with baked goods, a place to relax and unwind, or a place to reflect and make friends, Monarca is a sweet home for all.
EXPLORE MORE FROM La Monarca
To see what’s baking at La Monarca Bakery & Cafe check out lamonarcabakery.com or visit one of their twelve locations around L.A.
SHARE YOUR L.A. BREAD STORIES
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Following the success of Kneaded: L.A. Bread Stories, we're celebrating the history, heritage, and communities of Los Angeles through the lens of different cultural traditions. This year, L.A. at Play highlights the vibrant and visionary work of artisans who fabricate dolls and figurines using a variety of techniques and materials.