William Leaman isn't a professional soccer player, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a World Cup champion. The baker served as the captain of Team USA for the 2005 Coupe du Monde de Boulangerie—also known as the World Cup of Baking. Before the final buzzer sounded on the oven timer, he had guided his team to victory, crafting more than 300 baguettes, pastries, and specialty loaves in just eight hours.
The atmosphere is a bit less hurried inside the kitchen at Bakery Nouveau, but Leaman doesn’t sacrifice quality just because there isn’t a trophy on the line. Using traditional French techniques, he and his team of bakers craft flaky, twice-baked almond croissants and sugary brioche. They also bake Parisian baguettes throughout the day, but their most popular item may be the Oat & Date loaf, for which they rely on a recipe originally formulated for the World Cup. Another perennial favorite is the Phoenix cake, whose alternating layers of mousse, pecan dacquoise, and chocolate sponge cake won top honors at the 2005 National Pastry Championship.