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Dunia Borga

OCCUPATION: Pastry chef and co-owner of La Duni Latin Café

PERSONAL STATS: Born in Bogota, Colombia, Dunia’s love for Latin foods was cultivated at a young age. (She is the great granddaughter of an ex Columbian president.) At age 6, she moved to the United States with her family—first stop: Los Angeles. While in L.A., Dunia met Spaniard Espartaco Borga, a restaurant and nightclub owner who, after 13 years of dating, became her husband; the pair later settled in Dallas, where Dunia began studying for a future in child psychology. Her interest in baking grew, so she decided to switch gears and study pastry making at El Centro College’s Culinary Program, and in 2001, the Borgas founded La Duni Latin Café. That same year, they also welcomed son Brandon, now 9, into their lives. The Borgas’ restaurant dynasty has now grown to three Dallas-area locations.

PATH TO BECOMING A PASTRY CHEF: “I started baking at home, watching my grandmother, who loved to bake in her kitchen in Colombia. I moved to New York City briefly (in 1993) and became really homesick. So I started baking; the smell of vanilla always comforted me. There’s nothing better than the smell and taste of something fresh out of the oven to make you feel warm inside.”

GREATEST CAREER CHALLENGE: “I graduated from school and went to work with my husband without any practical or professional experience; I’d never run a pastry shop before. I still struggle with this every day in new situations. But, I have relentless perseverance and resilience. I’ve learned to know my weaknesses, and I have staff that helps me overcome them.”

WHY SHE LOVES HER JOB: “I just love to bake memories. Sweets are always a part of people’s most important memories.”

BRANDON’S VIEW OF HER CAREER: “He thinks it’s really cool to have a mom who makes him any pastry he dreams of. And, he likes it when I take pastries to his class. He’s my No. 1 tester. He’s also very involved in our bakery—he created his own chocolate chip cookie recipe that we sell. He gets to keep 25 cents from the sale of each cookie and the rest (about $2) goes toward his college fund.”

LESSONS BRANDON LEARNS FROM WATCHING MOM WORK: “I hope he learns that you only can reach success after many, many failures. And, quick success does not last … it takes me many tries to come up with a successful recipe. Whenever it comes out perfect the first time, I can never duplicate it again.”

STRATEGY TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE: “I don’t have a balance, really. It’s never perfect. But I do have a great, supporting husband who works a lot more than me so I can have free time to be a mom. You have to define your priorities, have discipline and stick to what’s important to you.”

YOUR FAMILY’S  EFFORT TO ‘GO GREEN’: “We recycle at home and are conscious about our water and energy usage in the house. And, one of Brandon’s favorite things to do while on vacation at the beach is to walk the beach on expeditions. Along the way, we pick up trash left by other people.”

YOUR PARENTING STYLE: “I always mean what I say and I never promise or threaten anything I can’t fulfill. I always say that if I’m told the truth, I won’t punish. And, I always want him to try his best no matter if he fails. I never punish for failures, I just encourage him to try again. My husband says I fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee!”