You scoured Los Angeles, tasted the baguettes, savored the final bites, and voted for your favorites.
Today, the votes are in. The devoted French Morning readers have chosen nine bakeries to fight for the title of Best Baguette in LA 2016. The winner will be decided in a final taste test on Thursday, September 8th at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, at 7:00pm. Get tickets here to come taste and vote for your favorite baguette. A big thanks goes out to our sponsors and partners who made this possible: Norwegian (two roundtrip tickets Los Angeles-Paris to win), Cacao Noel, Château d’Esclans and the products of Ile-de-France.
On the night of the final taste test, guests will sample each baguette, accompanied with sides of cheese and charcuterie, before voting on their favorite. Simultaneously, a panel of culinary experts will be performing a blind taste test to determine who takes home the Grand Prix for the best baguette and for the best specialty bread. The winner of the Grand Prix becomes the official bread provider for the Sofitel. The esteemed jury is composed of:
- Christophe Bonnegrace (executive chef at Yamashiro Hollywood)
- Christoph Bader (Swiss pastry chef and owner of Florentino)
- Daniel Durfort (executive chef at the Azusa Pacific University in California)
- Thomas Henzi (pastry chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and voted “Pastry Chef of the Year” by Les Toques Blanches of LA in 2001)
- Stéphane Tréand (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2004, executive chef consultant at l’Occitanial in Tokyo, and founder of The Pastry School in Costa Mesa)
- Brett Robbins, Sous-Chef at Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
Finally, after weeks of suspense, the moment LA has been waiting for: and the finalists are…
Thomas Keller has been making high-quality products at Bouchon since he first opened the bakery in Yountville in 2003. Before moving to the United States, Keller worked at Au Pain de mon Grand-Père in Strasbourg, and The Arts Club and Princi in London. At the beginning of his career in the US, his artisanal breads were only served in restaurants, but they became so popular that he opened a flagship store. His breads are inspired by memories of his childhood in France. You can find them in his shop in Beverly Hills, where Francois Higel is at the helm of the baking process.
Boulangerie de Paris
The secret to the extra goodness of Boulangerie de Paris products resides in the wood stove, which makes the bread crispier and guarantees the authentic French taste. Influenced by French and Italian baking traditions, baguettes are made in a traditional style, with natural ingredients and no additives or preservatives. Fresh and warm every day, the baguettes are made on location.
The Bread Lounge
In just a few months, The Bread Lounge took the LA bakery world by storm with its delicious baguettes and specialty bread, baked daily before dawn under the watchful eye of Ran Zimon. A lifelong baker, Zimon opened this artisanal hotspot in 2012 after selling his baguettes to restaurants and working with Suzanne Goin at A.O.C. and Lucques. Situated in the Art District, his pastries are the pinnacle of excellence, and his sandwiches divine.
Clark Street Bread
Only a few baguettes make the trip from this chef’s apartment in West Hollywood (where he first began baking bread in 2013) to Grand Central Market to be sold to the blessed shopper. As the head of Clark Street Bread, chef Zack Hall has been supplying some of the best restaurants in the city with his bread since he first began baking. He’s currently in the planning process to open his own bakery in Echo Park in 2017.
The hot spot for aspiring actors in Los Feliz, Figaro Bistrot is an all-day restaurant and lounge specializing in French cuisine. Amidst the restaurant’s 1930’s Parisian décor, baker and pastry chef Pascal Martin offers a vast selection of desserts and breads to his patrons. Before opening Figaro Bistrot, he worked at Champagne Bakery in San Diego, where he baked his baguettes fresh every morning.
Frogs Organic Bakery
After working as head pastry chef at Fouquet’s in Paris and at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, chef Jean-Luc Labat began living his dream in 2010 by moving to the United States and opening Frogs Organic Bakery. Labat hopes to make the French tradition of artisanal bakery goods readily available in the US. His breads are Certified Organic by the USDA and sold at farmer’s markets across the city, via the delivery service Farmbox, and in luxury hotels like the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
Larder Baking Company
Larder Baking Company is the bakery brainchild of three talented gastronomers: entrepreneur Suzanne Goin (laureate of the James Beard Award), Caroline Styn (nominated for a James Beard Award), and bakery chef Nathan Dakdouk. Since 2008, Dakdouk has been baking a wide range of breads, which are served and sold in the restaurants of Goin and Styn, including Lucques, A.O.C., and Tavern. Originally from Venezuela, Dakdouk learned to make sourdough bread after spying on the monks in his primary school’s kitchen. Located in West Hollywood, Larder Baking Company offers more than 25 varieties of bread, like multigrain, focaccia, breadsticks, and olive bread.
At Pitchoun, baking is a family affair. Hailing from Southern France, Fabienne and Fréderic Soulies (certified at l’Ecole de Boulangerie-Pâtisserie in Paris) have been showing off their baking prowess in Pershing Square since 2015. The restaurant has a contemporary feel to it, though their specialty is still traditional baked goods, cooked in an open kitchen (much to the delight of drooling onlookers.) To bring a more authentic taste to their food, they cook with local and organic ingredients, and butter imported from France.
Porto’s Bakery is the veteran of the competition. Entertaining its guests with French fare since 1960, this bakery is a California staple. Today, three brothers and sisters direct the family business, which was founded by their parents who immigrated from Cuba the same year the bakery opened. This second generation conserves the original multi-cultural classics like boulettes de pomme de terre and Cuban sandwiches, while continuing to develop a wide range of European bakery treats.