Crispy Heaven Bakery Wins the Best Baguette in New York Competition!

Fel Cassieli of Crispy Heaven Bakery receives the prize for Best Baguette in New York. © LiAnn Grahm/French Morning

Seventeen bakeries represented, close to a thousand visitors at the Market Line in the Lower East Side, and more than 300 kilos of baguette samples distributed throughout the event… The 2024 edition of the Best Baguette in New York competition, on Tuesday, March 19, really amped up the stakes, delighting aficionados of traditional French baking. And who was at the center of the madness this year? Our jury members, of course! Appearance, aroma, originality, taste… Our judges awarded points on a scale of 1 to 5 for each criteria, in a blind tasting that culminated in the top prize being awarded to Crispy Heaven Bakery.

Le jury avait la lourde tâche de départager baguettes et pains spéciaux de 17 boulangeries. © Geraldine Bordère

“We didn’t debate too much; there were three baguettes that stood out from the rest. We chose this one for its craftsmanship. The crunchy exterior, the sound when you handle it, that characteristic crunch of a perfect crust, the wide alveoli and a crumb with just enough moisture to stay soft and melt in the mouth. It’s a baguette made according to the rules of the art, not overworked, quite salty, unlike others which are less tasty and bland,” commented Gabriel Kreuther, member of the jury, and chef of the eponymous double Michelin-starred restaurant.

Jury Best Baguette NY 2024, from left to right : Natasha Pickowicz, Cécilia Jourdan, Gabriel Kreuther, Thierry Atlan, Jonathan Pereira, Scott Cioe, and Dorie Greenspan. © E. Guédel

From Model to Baker

New York’s Best Baguette also has a great story to tell. The winner, Fel Cassieli, arrived in New York 8 years ago. Originally from the Czech Republic, the young woman left her modeling career to devote herself to baking, at the urging of her family and friends. She was moved to tears when she came on stage to collect her prestigious prize! “I knew I was doing a good job. I worked so hard to get here! This award is also for my team, who do a fantastic job every day to make people happy. Bread is life and it is joy,” confided the happy winner, who shares her joy every day in the form of baguettes at her Soho boutique.

The joy of Fel Cassieli, founder of Crispy Heaven Bakery, as she received the prize for Best Baguette New York 2024. © LiAnn Grahm/French Morning

The Rankings for Best Baguette

1. Crispy Heaven Bakery

2. Breads Bakery, winner of the 2022 Best Baguette competition

3. Ole & Steen US

A new prize for Breads Bakery, winner of the Best Baguette in New York competition in 2022. © LiAnn Grahm/French Morning

Fel Cassieli also took third place in the Best Speciality Bread category, which rewards the savoir-faire and creativity of bakers. In this category, Frenchette Bakery got all the love for their loaves. Peter Edris, head baker at the recently opened Whitney Museum location, decided to present his focaccia with olives, sweet peppers, and thyme, an Italian specialty that did not leave our gourmet jury indifferent.

The Rankings for Best Specialty Bread

1. Frenchette Bakery for their Fougasse

2. Pistache for their Spring Bread with sun-dried tomatoes, poppy seeds, and basil

3. Crispy Heaven Bakery for their multi-grain bread made with poolish (a style of fermented dough)

Executive Chef of Pistache, Nicolas Buchot, and owner Yvan Bedouet receiving 2nd Place for the Best Specialty Bread from Emmanuel Saint-Martin, CEO and founder of French Morning. © LiAnn Grahm/French Morning

Thunderous Applause for La Bicyclette

As for the People’s Choice Award for Best Baguette, there are signs that you can’t go wrong… All evening long, Florent Andreytchenko’s stand was packed with the star of his Brooklyn bakeries, the famous baguette he claims to be the cheapest in New York ($2). The cheapest and, now, the best. We predict that the artisan will have his work cut out for him to keep up with demand!

People’s Choice Award for La Bicyclette awarded to Florent Andreytchenko. © LiAnn Grahm/French Morning

In any case, when the results were announced, La Bicyclette smashed all the scores on the applause meter! The secret of his bread: “Liquid sourdough, with 48 hours of fermentation for a lactic aftertaste, and a lot of passion.” In the audience, Laurent, a well-informed gourmand, was delighted. “It was my favorite. With its crunchy crust and real sourdough taste. Without really being able to explain, it took me straight back to my childhood. Like one of Proust’s Madeleines!”

The acting Consul General of France, Damien Laban, came to present the People’s Choice Award for Best Baguette 2024. © Consulat général de France à New York

But what actually makes a good baguette? Beyond the subjectivity of individual tastes, there are a number of key characteristics that must be respected. “A crisp, well-baked crust, an airy crumb, but above all not elastic,” explains Thierry Atlan, chocolatier and Meilleur Ouvrier de France. He adds, “But for me, a good baguette is a mouthful that brings back memories of France. It’s buying two and nibbling one on the way home, then eating the second with a good salted butter and an 18-month Comté.”

Dégustation de baguette pendant la soirée Le jury avait la lourde tâche de départager baguettes et pains spéciaux de 17 boulangeries. © Geraldine Bordère 

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in November 2023, the baguette has been a source of pride for the French since the early 20th century, and is now the number one bread consumed in France. And who knows, maybe soon in the Big Apple too…

This article was originally published in French on French Morning. It has been translated for Frenchly by Catherine Rickman.

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