We Wanna Be Friends With: Baker Justin Brown


Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.

Everything going on in the Marina's new Le Marais Bakery feels so perfectly San Franciscan; giving a nod to artisan techniques of the past while utilizing our local gems in an ingenious way. With a name inspired by the trendy Parisian quarter, the bakery is a traditional patisserie at heart, but instead of powdered sugar and a few raisins, they're incorporating things like kale, pear, TCHO chocolate, and Cowgirl Creamery Cheese to make breads unique. The stunning space is the brainchild of the Paxton Gate design firm, and Justin Brown (formerly of Brooklyn’s Bien Cuit Bakery and Roberta’s) calls the shots as head boulanger.

Justin is a Julliard-trained bassoonist with a passion for baking the old-school way. Instead of using commercial yeast like most people have since the 1930s, he has eight of his own unique starters that form the base of every loaf, baguette, levian, and slice of rye he bakes. Each day Justin tends to his starters, and makes sure they're ready to be used for the next morning.

Justin's daily bread specials include seasonal ingredients (like the strawberry, sunflower and sage loaf), and we hear his technique for incorporating a whole slice of banana into a chocolate croissant is off the charts. Big thanks to Justin for dusting off his hands for a minute to answer our We Wanna Be Friends With Q&A!

1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?

At this moment of writing, I find myself in The Mission. An on-the-whole likable place, but one in observably in decline--the violent influx of Tech Cash brings with it an unfortunate withering of cultural and community aesthetics. Relocation is a very real possibility.

2. What's your hands-down, absolute favorite thing to eat in SF?

At once anything and everything that Chef Evan brings forth to his Rich Table. He's an extraordinary talent, without doubt.

3. What's your perfect night on the town?

Haven't settled on this one, yet. But it definitely centers around sleep. And, likely, some unreasonable amount of arcane and arbitrarily abstract music.

4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time?

When there's time, I'll whisk myself away--on two wheels--to the verdant hills of Marin. The Bay Area, and environs, are a cyclist's wet dream.

5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?

This might fall beyond the threshold of "day trip," but I'm always excited to escape southerly to visit family and friends in Paso Robles. The Central Coast is producing a number of big, bold wines--I enjoy hunting down new bottles--and it's certainly nice to take in a little bit of afternoon warmth.

6. Quick-fire round:

Burrito or Burger?

Burrito - the more successful meat-free option.

Presidio or Golden Gate Park?

Presidio - less likely to get lost.

BiRite or Mitchell's?

What's a "Mitchell's?" Should I know?

Bike or MUNI?

Bike, bike, bike!

Fort Mason or Dolores Park?

Naked yoga in Dolores, right?

The Independent or the Fillmore?


Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?

I select the warmer of the two.

7. Three words that describe your life in SF?

Iconoclastic, Antinomian, & Ludditic.

Want More Justin Brown?

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