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Yoli Tortilleria wins James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Bakery

Yoli Tortilleria
Posted at 7:02 PM, Jun 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 10:29:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoli Tortilleria won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bakery, topping four other entries in the category, Monday night in Chicago.

The Kansas City bakery, started by Mark and Marissa Gencarelli, is located at 1668 Jefferson St. in KCMO.

Yoli Tortilleria is known for its outstanding stone-ground corn tortillas that are crafted utilizing the ancient method of Nixtamalization.

"We wash our corn, cook it with limewater, rinse, grind and cook it. Yes, that's all we do," according to the bakery's website.

Marissa Tapia Gencarelli told the audience at the Lyric Opera of Chicago she lost both of her parents years ago and baking became the family's therapy.

"It was a way to connect and honor my ancestors in the middle of North America," she told the audience after receiving the award. "Thank you for helping us honor the humble tortilla."

Tapia Gencarelli also took a moment to thank the Beard Foundation, friends, family — especially her children, who have put up with all the "crazy schedules" — and the people of KC.

"Our city, Kansas City. Without you, we would not be here, so thank you so much," Tapia Gencarelli said.

Yoli's "superb tortilla" boasts added health benefits due to the process in which they are created, making them easier to digest, per the bakery's website.

Drastic Measures, a Shawnee bar, was also nominated for a James Beard Award.

However, Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu won the Outstanding Bar honor.

The James Beard Foundation's Awards are named in memory of the man who taught Americans about cooking, was known as the first foodie and was named the "Dean of American cookery" in 1954 by the "New York Times," according to a news release from the foundation.