Tahoe man bakes bread to support nonprofits
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — During quarantine, people were trying their luck at new hobbies and crafts. South Tahoe’s Sebastiani Romagnolo was one of those people trying his hand at the complex process of sourdough, and the traditional way with a sticky living, growing starter.
Romagnolo was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe and after graduating high school in 2007, he moved to New York City to pursue his passion for theater while working as a sous-chef until the pandemic hit. Romagnolo moved back home with his parents in December.
While the region was locked in the stay at home order, Romagnolo decided to try again learning the process of sourdough, which he had always wanted to and had practiced before, but couldn’t seem to quite grasp.
“The pandemic gave me an opportunity to finally pursue sourdough bread again,” he said.
Then something clicked and after mastering the bake, Romagnolo got obsessed.
He was baking tons of bread and the amount was overwhelming.
“My parents started saying that no one should have this amount of bread in their home,” he laughed. “Then I thought, well this is a no-brainer, I am going to turn this into a mutual aid project.”
Back in New York City, Romagnolo saw the devastation and hurt that the pandemic caused. He said that nearly everyone he knew was out of work and he knows what it is like to have to rely on outside support.
He said that many did not have the privilege of support during this time. Even to get into a grocery store, it was a two hour wait during the heat of the pandemic.
Once back at the lake, Romagnolo started connecting with other organizations around town to see how he could help. He decided that all proceeds he received by selling his bread would go to support local organizations who are helping families in the community.
“It’s a great way to provide additional relief to families during this time,” he said.
While he has minimum suggestions, the bread is sold on a donation-based scale.
“Every cent that doesn’t go to the cost of supplies, goes to support the organizations.”
Customers can donate, choose their loaf online, pick an organization to receive the donation and Romagnolo delivers the loaf.
“I love to deliver the bread and talk with folks in the community,” he said.
Romagnolo finished his second delivery this week and raised $991 for local charities which he says equates to about 620 meals. Not only is he happy to donate funds but he is glad to create an opportunity for people in the community to learn more about these organizations.
The five organizations he has listed are Bread & Broth, Tahoe Magic, The Food Pantry at Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center and Tahoe Miracle Fund.
When he started, Romagnolo expected he’d get about eight orders, but just last week he received over 30 orders and since baking he’s made about 68 loafs. One family even ordered 10 at once to deliver to their church.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to give back to the community,” he said. “I am in awe of the amount of support we’ve had.”
Romagnolo currently works as a contact tracer for California.
“I talk to people everyday that are having an incredibly hard time,” he said. “To be able to have a chance to connect back to Lake Tahoe and step back into the lineage of service feels great.”
Romagnolo grew up volunteering at local organizations and his father was one of the pioneers to start South Lake Tahoe Tahoe Family Resource Center.
Romagnolo recommends those interested to check the website on Monday with an updated delivery date. He takes orders until the following Thursday or until he hit’s max capacity. He is currently operating on a two week cycle.
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