Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Huntington Hotspots: Nomada Bakery

Shawn+Schulenberg+and+his+husband%0AAriel+Barcenas+co-own+Nomada%0ABakery.
Courtesy of Nomada Bakery
Shawn Schulenberg and his husband Ariel Barcenas co-own Nomada Bakery.

At Nomada Bakery and Eatery, every item on the menu is a testament to a journey of flavors. Co-owner and baker Ariel Barcenas, emphasizing quality and technique, crafts each dish to transport you back to the freshness and organic goodness of his childhood. Picture the delicate layers of a buttery croissant, the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee, or the sweet and tangy burst of flavor from a fruit tart. Aesthetics exude from every corner of this space, from the hand-painted mural to the delicate floral China on which each elegant pastry is served.

Barcenas’ life is a testament to the unexpected turns that can lead to extraordinary journeys. Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, he spent weekends chasing chickens at his grandmother’s farm, starkly contrasting to his weekdays in the bustling city. His path led him to the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he pursued a degree in film. It was during this time that he met Shawn Schulenberg, who would later become his husband. Schulenberg was offered a position at Marshall, prompting Barcenas to leave his job at a newspaper in Panama and settle in Huntington, West Virginia.

He got his first restaurant job waiting tables at Uno’s just a few months before it closed, and then he moved to Backyard. When Drew and Megan Hetzer were opening Peddler, the sister to Backyard, they wanted to make their bread in-house and reached out to Barcenas, as they knew he loved baking. With his passion for baking and dedication to quality, Barcenas helped develop the menu with freshly baked bread in just three months. It was a process of experimentation, creativity and a love for good food.

Barcenas explained, “After that experience, I could actually imagine myself baking professionally. And at that point, I had – not necessarily Nomada in mind, but I wanted to do something connecting the bakery and the food that I missed.”

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Inspired, Barcenas moved to Le Bistro/Cellar Door, where his recipe repertoire was challenged. Every week, Barcenas faced the challenge of coming up with new specials. But for him, it was not just a challenge but an opportunity to experiment with culinary techniques and push his creative boundaries. 

“When I think of cooking, sometimes, the idea starts with a story or a visual. It starts with colors, structures and dimensions, and then translates into ingredients,” he said.

 

The bakery is located in Pullman Square. (Courtesy of Nomada Bakery)

 

Barcenas’ journey was not a solitary one. It was fueled by the unwavering support andencouragement of his husband and friends. Their shared enthusiasm and sense of community transformed Nomada from a mere bakery and eatery into a place where everyone feels a part of the story. 

“Shawn’s mom, when I first moved here, she came to visit, and she got me a KitchenAid. And that’s what started the constant baking,” Barcenas recalled. “I started hosting my friends at home to be able to test things. The rule was nobody brings anything to eat because I have a full menu planned.” 

These friends urged him to start charging for his creations, leading to the birth of Nomada. Almost like fate, after the bakery River and Rail closed, there was a hole in the market and a space fully equipped with a kitchen. The Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau published in December 2018 they were looking for a food service business to replace the former bakery. While Barcenas planned on opening a website for people to place direct orders to, his friends who owned restaurants urged him to take the space. Barcenas and Schulenberg, his partner in life and in business, worked on the proposal together, getting to open their doors six months before the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown after nine months of renovations and training.

Barcenas spoke about the hardships of running a business during lockdown. 

“We would not have survived if it was not for the Huntington community,” he said.

Barcenas’ love for baking is a culmination of various aspects of his life. From cooking with his grandmother to his career in journalism, each experience has shaped his passion. This passion, which brings him immense joy and fulfillment, is what he infuses in every creation at Nomada. His aim is to inspire people to slow down and savor life’s little moments.

Looking ahead, Nomada will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this October, so stay tuned for more exciting announcements and a delicious new menu development. 

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