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Local Spotlight: Angela's Oven

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What: Fresh baked breads from a baker with military precision.

Jerry Shawn never dreamed of being a baker. He happened upon it, quite literally. Shawn started baking -- or at least trying to bake -- when he was in the Marines, stumbling upon an Italian cookbook while weaving through a garage sale. The book featured a glorious-looking recipe for pizza, and on a whim, he gave it a try. He loved it: the gathering of ingredients, the assembly, the baking process, the delicious outcome. Jerry channeled his love into a few culinary classes at the CCA in San Francisco, where he learned that what fascinated him most was bread -- The yeasts, the pastries, the dough, the science. But a growing family of five cannot live on bread alone. Or so he thought.

His service complete, Jerry tried the 9-5 thing. He tried, and he tried, but baking was calling him, and that's when the little oven light went on. He used his GI benefits to finish his baking degree, turning his passion into his career. He made the rounds at various restaurants and bakeries, where he perfected the art of the almond croissant, and then four years ago Shawn and his wife Angela started a bakery of their own: Angela's Oven. Since then they've gone from a few breads and croissants to dozens of varieties at seven markets around town...and as of this week, a storefront.

Shawn loves being a local vendor for the sheer fact that he can truly know his customers, interact with them, and find out what they like. With local vendors, he says, "You have the advantage of meeting the actual person who participated in making your product -- not someone who took the product out of a box and put it in the oven or on the shelf. We put our heart into every loaf. It's something that you just can't get when you go to the grocery store." His passion is obvious through both his words and his products. Shawn's croissants and fruit pastries are a glimpse of divinity, while the croissants and baguettes are his best sellers, though his recent favorite is the Country French loaf.

Jerry Shawn has worked tirelessly to get where he is, and he till does so each day. He is a military man, tried and true. And his favorite thing to do when he gets home from a long day at work? Sit down with a pastry, a cup of coffee, and a table full of family.

Where: You'll find Jerry Shawn and his Angela's Oven breads at many of the farmers' markets around town: Urban Harvest, Rice University, Clear Lake, Grogan's Mill, Humble, Kingwood, Spring Branch. And great news: This week Jerry and Angela Shawn opened their new storefront at 204 Aurora in the Heights.

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