Le Dix-Sept Pȃtisserie, a local bakery specializing in French pastries and confections, has announced plans to move into its first brick-and-mortar home at 3376 18th Street, adding its stylish sweets to a booming restaurant block of the Mission. Chef-owner Michelle Hernández specializes in creative buttercream cakes, but also nougat, a chewy confection rarely seen in the states, and canelés de Bordeaux, the deeply burnished little custards which are rarely done quite right.
A Bay Area native, Michelle Hernández earned the grand diplôme at Le Cordon Bleu — the culinary school’s most comprehensive sweet and savory program — and worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, including two under the late Joel Robuchon. She started Le Dix-Sept in 2011, first as a pop-up and a stand at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market, while still bouncing back and forth to France. In 2017, she officially moved back to the Bay Area and leaned into the business, which has taken off in the past couple of years, with wholesale accounts at Dandelion and Bi-Rite, where you can buy the nougat, in addition to busy schedule of pop-ups, events, and custom orders.
True to her classical training, Hernández is known for French pastries and confections, particularly cakes, tarts, galettes, canelés, and nougat. She takes inspiration from botanicals, including flowers, tea, cacao, and honey. “Getting closer to nature brings a different perspective, drawing from my diverse background,” Hernández explains. “My mom is from Guam and my father is Mexican, so I mix flavors and bring natural ingredients to the forefront.” Her nougat is a tooth-sinking and satisfying example: A classic French confection, it’s rarely seen in SF, let alone the US, but unlike other candies, it relies on honey to create thick and chewy slabs studded with almonds and dried fruit. The theme also plays out through her whole aesthetic and style, which features lots of rose and violet hues, and buttercream buds and petals climbing up the sides of cakes.
For its first permanent storefront, Le Dix-Sept is getting a prime location at 18th and Mission, a crossroads currently going through a micro restaurant boom, with Prubechu reopening in December, and Dear Inga recently opened a few blocks over. The space was formerly Alite Outpost, a yupster camping store. Most of the 2,000-square-foot shop will be dedicated to baking, but there will be a couple of tables out front for customers who’d like to sit down to enjoy their coffee and pastry. Hernández will sell cakes and tarts by the slice, as well as the nougat, canelés, and other sweet treats. There will be savory options, too, meaning quiche and thick slabs of buttery brioche toast. On the beverage side, in addition to coffee, Hernández is planning to pour botanical drinks and teas, including a rose-hibiscus spritzer and matcha coconut milk.
Having spent the last couple of years in a commercial kitchen in the Dogpatch, Hernández says coming back to the community in the Mission and Noe Valley feels like a return to her people. Back in 2011, before SF was flooded with every kind of pastry pop-up, Le Dix-Sept started as a Friday night stand at Luna Rienne Gallery at 22nd and Valencia. And having done the Noe farmers’ market for years, she’d meet couples, do wedding cakes, and wave at babies. “I loved being the town baker, and convincing people that a pastry isn’t too pretty to eat, and it’s okay to enjoy a beautiful pastry on a Tuesday,” Hernández says. “And I’m so grateful for the community’s support in this huge next step in my culinary career.”
Le Dix-Sept Patisserie is slated to open at 3376 18th Street in spring 2020. If you’d like to support the bakery, it’s currently fundraising through Kickstarter.