Working long hours in a bakery under his father for many years, Andre Chin traveled from his home in Cambodia to France in 1972 to attend culinary school just after his high school graduation.
After immigrating to the United States in 1990, the baker used his French-inspired food expertise to open pastry cafe Artisan Boulanger Patissier with his wife Amanda Eap in the early 2000s. The bakery managed to thrive within the East Passyunk neighborhood, despite a change in location in 2013 and the constant fluctuation in Passyunk’s community.
Now located on 1218 Mifflin St., just off of East Passyunk Avenue – only a few blocks from its original home – the humble bakery draws regular customers with its handmade croissants. The pastries are all crafted with recipes and techniques that Chin learned while working as a baker in France, with the addition of a few personal twists to give the pastries a distinguishable flavor.
Having previously worked in a bakery in Paris and experiencing the fierce competition of France’s pastry business firsthand, Chin said his inspiration for Artisan Boulanger Patissier came from a desire for culinary creative freedom.
“My dream was to make my own stuff,” Chin said. “I [didn’t] like working for my father. [I had to make] a lot of donuts from 10 at night until noon. That’s not the way I wanted to learn. I like to learn and create.”
Spawned from Chin’s extensive pastry knowledge, Artisan’s menu lists a number of handmade breads, croissants and breakfast sandwiches. Breads for all of the food options are made in house, and mousse is imported directly from France.
Croissants, the venue’s specialty, are made from scratch using French techniques Chin learned during his stint in Europe. Flour, European butter, eggs, milk and sugar are the main ingredients in the pastry-producing process, with individual variations added throughout – depending on the croissant’s flavor. Chin said to ensure the foreign sweets maintain an authentic flavor, even specific water temperatures in the process are carefully monitored.
Andre Chin’s son Nick Chin, a junior Kinesiology major at Temple and part-time employee of Artisan, said the bakery’s customer base stretches far beyond the borders of Philadelphia.
“It’s a very family-friendly place, so all the customers that come in my mom knows,” Nick Chin said. “Some people who moved away to other states come down here specifically to get croissants.”
True to its European influence, the name Artisan Boulanger is a common phrase for “bakery or pastry” in France, and Patissier translates to “cake.”
After several years of serving the neighborhood, co-owner and pastry chef Eap said she values the personal relationship with her customers above even the most delectable of Artisan’s pastries.
“The people is what’s most important, the second is the food,” Eap said. “If you don’t have people, it doesn’t matter if you’re making good products. I have to be honest with my customer, and [I] have to trust them too. If you trust in them, they appreciate you a lot.”
Eamon Dreisbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.