Francisco “Pancho” Aranda, the “Pie Guy,” has been baking for more years than he can count.
He was a professional baker for Svenhard’s Swedish Bakery in Oakland for most of his career. And when he retired 25 years, he didn’t stop rolling and kneading.
For years, he’s been baking 20 to 30 pies on Thanksgiving to give to friends, family and neighbors in San Lorenzo. And this year is no different.
“My dad is 89 and he’s still making pies,” said his daughter, Esther Vigil, one of seven siblings. “He loves to give them away.”
On Wednesday, he rolled up his sleeves and took to the kitchen to create mouthwatering pumpkin, apple and peach pies. He is a man of few words, limiting his conversation to the act of baking. “I cut the apples, slice… and put it together,” Aranda said, busy at work.
Vigil attended the baking ritual for the first time to learn some of her dad’s’ secrets. He usually doesn’t let anyone help.
“He makes the best pies ever,” Vigil said. “And he does it all by himself.”
Even his wife of 65 years, Virginia, doesn’t partake of the official baking. She gives her husband all the credit for the hard work, which includes more than just pie baking. He gardens and grows all the apples and peaches for the pies in his yard.
“He retired many years ago,” Virginia Aranda said. “But he’s still baking. He’s always active.”
KTVU photographer Jacy Lockhart contributed to this report.