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Daily Dining News: Heartwarming Tale of Gang Banger Turned Pastry Maker

Hawks
Everybody loves a good story of redemption. The Sac Bee's Chris Macias has a great story involving Edward Martinez, a gang member who turned his life around and is now one of the top pastry chefs in the region.

Martinez serves as executive pastry chef of Hawks in Granite Bay, which specializes in seasonal ingredients and is among the region's finest restaurants. Even in a chocolate-stained apron, Martinez doesn't look like a guy you'd want to mess with. He stands over 6 feet tall with a shaved head and a black widow spider on the back of his neck. His body is an evolving canvas of tattoos, some of which hark back to a past that he's since left behind: membership in one of California's most notorious street gangs.

Learning to make pastries may have saved Martinez's life, or at least spared him a stretch in the state penitentiary. In 2005, facing three felony charges, Martinez promised to enroll in a pastry-making program, leading to a reduced sentence – and perhaps a last chance at an honest life.

Martinez's Facebook photos show a collage of the sweet and a bitter taste of his past. There's a shot of his moelloux of white chocolate, compressed mandarins, pistachio macaron and mandarin sorbet; an "I heart foie gras" T-shirt sported by his baby son; and the casket of one of Martinez's homeboys from his Fresno gang days being lowered into the earth.

"I never expected to get this far," said Martinez, who recently turned 27. "I expected … (to be) in jail, or dead."

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee. I promise you it'll be worth your time.

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