Media Life: Auburn bakery finds unexpected political notoriety in Oregon

Colfax High grad’s restaurant in fray with iron chef Bobby Flay; Oakland A’s staying put with Auburn’s KAHI
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It’s not often that an Auburn bakery gets embroiled in Oregon political controversy. In fact, the logical answer would be never. But Paula’s Bakery in Downtown Auburn found itself smack dab on the tip of the smoking gun this past month after the business’s interior was used as a video shoot for TV ads aired statewide in Oregon by opponents of a couple of tax-raising measures. Measures 66 and 67 passed but before they did, Paula’s Bakery became the center of a firestorm over the ads. Proponents of 66 and 67 were able to make political hay over a spot supposed to be showing hardworking Oregonians that was actually filmed in, egads, California. Paula’s owner, Paula Graziano, said she was just happy to get paid by the ad’s producers for a day’s worth of business while filming took place early in January. Outside actors were brought in but the baked goods in the cases were all Paula’s. Customers were allowed to enter through the back way and the store stayed open during the daylong shoot. The Grass Valley crew packed up their cameras and left. In theory, that would have been the end of it. MIRROR IMAGE But some sharp-eyed 66 and 67 backers spotted the inverted “Paula’s” sign in a mirror and attempted to contact her to “set her right” on how much the measures would actually be costing her in taxes. That’s when an internet search hit the fan. It turned up the fact that there is no Paula’s in Oregon and the one in the ad is Auburn’s own. Graziano said the controversy even spawned a spoof on YouTube. And the posturing over the ad boiled over into another brouhaha, this time over using California crews and actors for the shoot. Back in Auburn, Graziano is taking the out-of-state notoriety in stride. She’s never lived in Oregon, knows nothing about the politics going on over the two measures, and would have thought differently about the offer if it had involved a California measure. “They wanted a mom and pop kind of place,” she said. “Why not?” And you can take that one to the bank. BURRITO BEEF Colfax High School grad Jodi Hernandez has made a name for herself as an award-winning TV journalist. She’s a reporter with NBC Bay Area but she also has a foodie side. She’s a partner in a San Francisco eatery that will be featured on the Food Network’s “Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.” The renowned “iron chef” strolled into the restaurant to challenge the eatery’s “Burrito Brothers” Victor and Miguel Escobedo to a burrito-making competition. Victor and Jodi are married while Miguel is Victor’s brother. The three opened their restaurant – Papalote Mexican Grille – in the city’s Mission District a decade ago. Since then, it has won numerous Best Burrito awards and scored nationwide coverage in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Flay found Papalote in his search for the nation’s best burrito. “Everything I have ever done in my life having to do with food just flashed in front of my eyes,” Miguel said, recalling the moment Flay strode out with his challenge. The episode will air at 9 p.m. Wednesday on the Food Network. It will re-air at midnight. DODGER BLUE NO MORE The talk behind the glass at the KAHI studios was that the Los Angeles Dodgers might just be a winner in broadcasts over the coming season on the venerable 950. Auburn’s AM station has been airing Oakland A’s games for at least 15 years but the idea of broadcaster Vin Scully behind the mike was enticing. It turns out that KAHI, much to the relief of A’s fans, will be sticking with the green and gold for the time being. The station doesn’t have a choice. According to general sales manager Mike Remy, a phone call to the A’s found that the station’s contract to run Oakland games lasts through the upcoming 2010 season. “We’re happy to be back,” Remy said. The season starts April 1 against the San Francisco Giants. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530)852-0232 or