How to Spot Paris' Best Bakeries, Chocolate Shops, and Pastry Shops

Posted by Fodor's Guest Blogger on May 11, 2009 at 10:30:08 AM EDT | Post a Comment

By Flora E. Lazar
Contributor to Fodor's France

The streets of Paris are lined with enticing-looking bakeries, chocolate shops and pastry stores. So how can you identify the very best places to spend your Euros (and calories)? Just look for the words "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (MOF) on the awnings and windows of specialty stores around Paris. It indicates that the baker or chef has been designated by the French government as one of the top culinary craftsmen in the country.

The MOF award was established in 1924 by the government to help preserve French artisan heritage in the face of rapid industrialization. In its early years, the MOF title was awarded in only two culinary categories--pastry and savory foods. Since then, the French government has added categories for chocolate, bread, wine, cheese and meat. These so-called "métiers de bouche", or gastronomic trades, attract the most attention but the French government now awards the title in some 120 other categories including glass blowing and floral arranging.

Although it is the ultimate recognition in France's culinary professions, many chefs never attempt the MOF competition because of the rigorous training involved. In the pastry category, the Olympic Games-like event stretches over three days. Those who reach the finalist stage in pastry produce cakes, cream puffs, breads, jam and chocolate candies, in addition to the notoriously fragile sugar and chocolate sculptures. Chefs work under constant scrutiny by judges who weigh their products (there are rigid weight rules), inspect their workstations (fingerprints not permitted) and even examine their trash (no discarding of extras).

Looking at the numbers, it's easy to see why many excellent chefs are deterred. Currently, about 75 chefs and 75 pastry chefs throughout the country hold the MOF title. The competition is held every three years, and in 2007 only five of the roughly 70 pastry chefs who entered the preliminaries ascended to the podium. But the prestige is so enormous that many will try again, even a third time, despite the unfavorable odds. Some of the talented few who have succeeded sell their coveted products at these Paris shops:

Bread

Au Duc de la Chapelle (Chef Anis Bouabsa)
32/34, Rue Tristan Tzara
75018 Paris (18th Arrondissement)
(0)1 40 38 18 98
www.auducdelachapelle.com

Le Quartier du Pain (Chef Frédéric Lalos)
74, Rue Saint-Charles
75015 Paris (15th Arrondissement)
(0)1 45 78 87
www.lequartierdupain.com

Branch locations of Le Quartier du Pain:
93, Rue Raymond Losserand
75014 Paris (14th Arrondissement)
(0)1 45 42 23 98

116, Rue Tocqueville
75017 Paris (17th Arrondissement)
(0)1 47 63 16 28

Pastry

Arnaud Larher
53, Rue Caulaincourt
75018 Paris (18th Arrondissement)
(0)1 42 57 68 08
www.arnaud-larher.com

Laurent Duchêne
2, Rue Wurtz
75013 Paris (13th Arrondissement)
(0)1 45 65 00 77
www.laurent-duchene.com

Chocolate

Pascal Caffet
40, rue Jacob
75006 Paris (6th Arrondissement)
(0)1 40 20 90 47
www.pascal-caffet.com

Jean-Paul Hévin
231, Rue Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris (1st Arrondissement)
(01)1 55 35 35 96
www.jphevin.com

Branch location of Jean-Paul Hévin:
3, Rue Vavin
75006 Paris (6th Arrondissement)
(0)1 43 54 09 85

Patrick Roger
108 Bld. Saint-Germain
75006 Paris (6th Arrondissement)
(0)1 43 29 38 42
www.patrickroger.com

Branch location of Patrick Roger:
45 Avenue. Victor Hugo
75016 Paris (16th Arrondissement)
(0)1 45 01 66


About the Writer

Flora Lazar is producer of "The Collar", a film on the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France to be aired on the BBC, and is the owner of Flora, an artisanal candy business in Chicago.

Posted in Deals Tagged: Paris, France

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