Juniper Wins the Best Croissant San Francisco 2024 Competition

Winners of the Best Croissant competition

Shouts of joy, surprise, and admiration erupted when the Grand Prix winner of the Best Croissant San Francisco competition was announced this Sunday, May 19. Juniper not only took first prize in the 2024 edition awarded by a jury of professionals, but also won the award for Best Original Creation for its “Cubano” with ham, pâté, and pickles, as well as the People’s Choice Award. “I feel like I’m living a dream,” said Amy Chen, wiping away tears. “I hope you’ll come visit us soon at Juniper.”

The bakery, located at the intersection of Polk and Pine streets, was opened in January 2023 by Kevin and Lauren Bohlin, also founders of Saint Frank Coffee. As relative newcomer to the San Francisco bakery scene, the three prizes won at the Best Croissant Competition are as much a surprise as an honor for Amy Chen, who makes the pastries at Juniper: “I learned the trade during the pandemic at the San Francisco Baking Institute. It’s great to be able to showcase your expertise through a French viennoiserie as iconic as the croissant.”

The 2024 jury members (left to right) : Tanya Holland, Michelle Choe Contreras, Pierre Bee,
Rachel Ahn, Deirdre Balao Rieutort-Louis and Giovanni Iannuzzi. © Frédéric Neema/Octamedia Productions

Organized by French Morning, Frenchly, and L’Apéro, the competition brought together over 300 gourmands at the Clift Sonesta Hotel, some of whom braved traffic between the Bay and the Breakers to sample the creations of 10 bakeries nominated by French Morning readers. The finalists included Juniper, Thorough Bread, Saint Regis, Craftsman and Wolves, Jane the Bakery, Starter Bakery, One65, Bonjour Bakehouse, One House Bakery, and Red Bird. Some guests didn’t even have enough hands to carry all of their croissants!

Bonjour Bakehouse, located in San Mateo. © Frédéric Neema/Octamedia Productions.

At on one of the tables in the lounge specially set aside to welcome the public, a group of four friends displayed their bounty: “My friend and I like to try new bakeries and taste their pastries, but it takes a lot of time to go from one to another. This competition brings the best together in one room, so it’s even easier, and we get to taste all their creations!” commented Billy Ruschel. “For me, a good croissant should be crisp on the outside and soft and airy on the inside, with the perfect balance of butter,” added Hillary Ngai.

Billy Ruschel and Hillary Ngai sampling their viennoiseries with friends. © Frédéric Neema/Octamedia Productions. 

At another table, Carol Brennan and her friend Debbie Dyas exchange impressions: “This one’s too soft! On the other hand, this ham croissant is delicious!” Last year, the two friends were unable to join the party, as the event had sold out. “This year, we made sure we could come much earlier, because we didn’t want to miss the event for anything.”

Carol Brennan and Debbie Dyas, munching on their croissants. © Frédéric Neema/Octamedia Productions.

Pierre-François and Stéphanie Choquet are regulars at the competition, and are always delighted to discover new brands: “Bonjour Bakehouse’s scones and sausage puffs melt in your mouth! And they’re from Bordeaux, just like us! At Juniper, we tried an absolutely delicious savory croissant. As for the croissants at One65, you don’t even have to introduce them – they’re excellent!”

Stéphanie and Pierre-François Choquet, competition regulars. © Frédéric Neema/Octamedia Productions. 

After a blind tasting, the jury, made up of Deirdre Balao Rieutort-Louis, pastry chef at Aphotic; Giovanni Iannuzzi of the Four Seasons in Napa’ Pierre Bee of l’Apéro; Michelle Choe Contreras of Atelier Crenn; influencer Rachel Ahn of @siliconvalley.foodies; and soul food queen Tanya Holland, were unanimous: Juniper was the big winner of the 2024 competition. One65 came in second for the Grand Prix, and Jane the Bakery third. One House Bakery took the prize for the most beautiful presentation.

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

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