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Last week, a jury of 15 good men and women gathered to judge the 24th Grand Prix de la Baguette at La Chambre Professionnelle des Artisans Boulangers du Grand Paris, in the 6th arrondissement. 181 baguette traditional sticks were delivered by local artisan bakers – 43 declared nul – winner Mahmoud M’Seddi’s was number 66!
To meet the strict criteria, the baguette – measuring 55-70cm long, weighing 250-300 grams – must be made from four ingredients: wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. It cannot be frozen or contain added preservatives – and must be sold on the premises where it’s baked.
Jury members included Guillaume Gomez, MOF 2004, the Elysée Palace executive chef; Franck Thomasse, President of the Boulangers du Grand Paris; last year’s winner Sami Bouattour; and six Parisiens and Parisiennes, chosen by ballot, to sniff out the quality of the ingredients, baking, taste, aroma, la mie (the texture) and looks.
“The French baguette should be listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural treasure”, says President Emmanuel Macron. “The baguette is the envy of the whole world,” he insists, in support of the national bakers’ association that is promoting the application, much the same as the French Gastronomic Meal (inscribed in 2010).
Lucky Monsieur & Madame Macron, they get their baguettes delivered, en direct du the ovens, from the winner Mahmoud M’Seddi’s Boulangerie 2M located at 215 Boulevard Raspail in the 14th (Metro: Vavin). Tunis-born Mahmoud honed his craft in the family bakery.
“Excellence and expertise must be preserved, that is why baguettes should be heritage-listed,” Macron told French radio after a recent visit from a group of master bakers at the Elysée Palace.
Madame Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, presents the prizes – €4000 to the winner who becomes the “Official supplier to the Elysée Palace” for one year – on Saturday, May 5th, 2018 in tandem with La Fête du Pain (until 16th May) in the forecourt of Notre-Dame.
Look like a local – bite the end of your baguette on the way home from the boulangerie; it’s called le quignon, the heel. At €1.50 (or thereabout) is there any better value in the world? You’re biting into the history of the Hexagon – enjoy!
Join the queue. Here’s the final 2018 top 10 artisan bakers list:
Mahmoud M’Seddi – Boulangerie 2M – 215 Boulevard Raspail, 14th
Thomas Lajuncomme – Le Grenier à Pain St. Amand – 33bis rue Saint Amand, 15th
Jacky Renouf – Le Puits d’Amour – 249 Boulevard Voltaire, 11th
Tarshan Selvarajah – Au Levain des Pyrénées, 20th
Yosuké Fujie – Landemaine Martyrs – 26 rue des Martyrs, 9th
Karim Akrout – Maison Hubert Rambuteau – 62 rue Rambuteau, 3rd
Emmanuel Decorde – Maison Decorde – 29 rue Gay-Lussac, 5th
Arnaud Delmontel – Delmontel – 25 rue de Levis, 17th
Anis Bouabsa – Au Duc de la Chapelle – 32 rue Tristan Tzara, 18th
Eric Schiavon – Boulangerie Thierry Meunier – 15 rue de Belleville, 19th
Want to read all about it ?
Good Bread is Back by Steven Laurence Kaplan and Catherine Porter
Lead photo credit : Grand Prix de la Baguette 2018. Courtesy of the city of Paris