Home Consulate Breads Bakery wins the Best Baguette New York 2022 contest at the French Consulate

Breads Bakery wins the Best Baguette New York 2022 contest at the French Consulate

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No one was there for a new passport. In front of the majestic Charles E. Mitchell mansion that houses the French consulate in New York, a hungry crowd waited its turn, eager for a bite of French bread. Organized by French Morning, the preeminent French news site in the United States, this competition and the accompanying gastronomic show saw 15 finalist bakers (selected by readers) present their baguettes in front of a jury of experts and a public ready to vote.

Soon, foodies from all five boroughs were roaming the beautiful gilded halls above Central Park, biting into crisp, golden baguettes but also Provençal focaccia, sourdough spheres studded with soft olives, loaves of dark rye and all sorts of cheeses and charcuterie. . Late in the evening, the judges, including chef Laurent Tourondel and photographer Melanie Dunea, sampled, evaluated and argued. Chopsticks have been categorized based on their appearance, aroma, structure, and of course, flavor. In the end, the sharp and chewy sourdough baguette from Breads Bakery came out on top. Bread Story, founded by former Maison Kayser baker Yann Ledoux, came second and also won the special prize. Bourke Street Bakery came third.

“At Breads Bakery’s, I tasted the flavor of real flour,” Tourondel said. “An alliance of lightness and crispness, almost honeycombed, a true French traditional baguette.

Breads Bakery landed on Union Square in New York in 2013, and today owner Gadi Peleg runs four different outposts. Although he’s known for his scrumptious chocolate babka and rugelach, he’s happy to get his baguette noticed.

“In our bakeries,” he said recently, “we bake all day long, every day. The bread is the hero. When they first started making chopsticks, not all customers approved of their grip.

“With all due respect,” Mr. Peleg said, “this is our path. This is the wand we love.

In the expert hands of head baker Darwin Castillo and his team, sourdough takes 48 hours to become a baguette. Both points are sharp and crispy, while the first bite gives a chewy and very sour mouthfeel. Blisters on the crust mean more fermentation and stronger flavor.

“During the pandemic, I used to come here every day,” said regular Claire Steinberger. “And with bread they offered comfort.”

It is to bring comfort but also pleasure that the founder of French Morning, Emmanuel Saint-Martin, created the competitions for the best baguettes and the best croissants in more than ten cities in the United States and Canada. This year, a major player, Maison Kayser, closed its doors, but half of the candidates are new to New York.

“We wanted to promote artisan bakers and offer our community a culinary and cultural feat,” said Mr. Saint-Martin.

The image of the Frenchman and his beret holding a crusty baguette under his arm might be a cliché, but rumor has it that every French citizen eats around 5.5 ounces of baguette a day. What are the origins of the wand? Well, this being France where Paul Bocuse was known to divide his days between three different women, there are three viable theories:

One historian places its invention with Napoleon’s bakers and the ease with which it was carried into the pockets of soldiers; another credits August Zang, a Viennese baker who may have invented the baguette and brought it to France. Finally, the baguette may have been invented in 1900 during the massive construction of the Paris metro. But historian and bread expert Steven Kaplan doesn’t believe any of these fables are true.

“The baguette is the result of the modern evolution of the baker’s craft,” he said, “as well as the evolution of public taste.”

To learn more about bread, check out his excellent book Good bread is back: a contemporary history of French bread, how it is made and the people who make it (Duke University Press Books).