After smelling, crackling, tasting, and scrupulously examining an interminably long row of baguettes, a panel of judges whittled down a list of 174 contenders, all vying for the Grand Prize for best baguette in Paris, to just one.
Tuesday’s competition crowned Pascal Barillon the best baguette maker in Paris this year, a competition that turns humble bakers into instant celebrities and attracts snaking lines of customers outside their bakery every day.
The edible icon of Paris is an institution not just for tourists, but for the French who also rhapsodize about the best baguettes in the city.
Barillon, who owns Au levain d’antan in the Montmartre area of Paris, won the grand prize at the 17th annual competition, trumping 173 other bread batons in categories of appearance, doneness, innards, smell and taste.
In addition to winning €4,000, it will be Barillon’s baguettes which will be served all year to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The panel of judges included artisanal bakers, food journalists and previous award winners.
List of 2011 winners
Pascal Barillon (Au Levain d’Antan), 6 rue des Abbesses, 75018
Gaétan Romp, 14 rue de la Michodière, 75002
Pascal Jamin (Les Saveurs du 20ème), 120 rue de Bagnolet, 75020
Gontran Cherrier (Gontran Cherrier), 22 rue Caulaincourt, 75018
M. Risser (Le Fournil du Village), 12 place J.B. Clément, 75018
Gilles Levaslot (Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel), 187 rue de Grenelle, 75007
Jean-Noël Julien (Julien), 75 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Philippe Marache, 92 av de la République Paris, 75011
Philippe Bogner, 204 rue des Pyrénées, 75020
Le Grenier à Pain Saint-Amand, 33 bis rue Saint-Amand, 75015