Compliments of Nathaniel Reid Bakery
Nathaniel Reid Bakery's classic croissant is the best in Missouri, says "Eat This, Not That."
The best croissant in the entire state of Missouri is right here in the St. Louis metro area, according to the popular food brand "Eat This, Not That." The company announced on its website, EatThis.com, that Nathaniel Reid Bakery (11243 Manchester Road, Kirkwood; 314-858-1019)
, the five-year-old Kirkwood pastry shop, takes top honors for the Show-Me State, singling out its croissants from its dazzling array of "savory dishes and exquisite pastries."
Though Reid is no stranger to accolades — the James Beard Award semifinalist is consistently ranked amongst the country's top pastry chefs and has been nationally recognized by publications like Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and Dessert Professional Magazine — he is humbled by this latest honor.
"It's one of those things you dream of, being on 'Best of' lists and in conversations with your friends and colleagues and people you admire," Reid says. "There's been a lot of trial and error and hard work to get things where they are."
That hard work may be paying off in pastry glory, but there was a point when Reid's croissant prowess was less than impressive. A biology-turned-hospitality major, Reid traded in his lab coat for chef whites while at Mizzou, then attended the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris to study pastry. He laughs when he recalls his first forays into croissant-making and how unimpressed his instructors were by his and his classmates' results.
"These were serious, world-class chefs teaching us how to do it, and I can't imagine what they were saying about our class when they left the room, because none of us did a good job," Reid says. "It's a very finicky product; there are a lot of steps, so that means there are a lot of chances for things to go wrong. We were hand-rolling them with a rolling pin, and it was summer in Paris with no AC, so you'd have to roll a little out, put it back [in the refrigerator], then roll it out again. But even if the room was cold, we still wouldn't have done a good job."
Reid is emphatic that those first failures ended up benefitting him in the long run. As he explains, the things he finds most fulfilling to do are the ones that began as the most challenging. The determination to succeed, as well as to get something as close to perfect as possible, is what inspires him on a daily basis. In that spirit, there is rarely a time that he is not questioning how he can do better — even with his croissants that are already seemingly flawless.
"We are in the never-ending pursuit of excellence here," Reid says. "We have made so many mini changes to them to make them a little more flaky, a little more buttery. We're probably on iteration 30 or something like that since we opened, without the customer noticing too much. We're just pushing the limits a little more, and I guarantee we will keep changing it."
This is the second time "Eat This, Not That" has recognized Nathaniel Reid Bakery. In 2021, the brand named the shop's poundcake the "Best Cake in Missouri." For Reid, though, the awards mean less about any sort of bragging rights, but more about the type of team and culture he has created.
"The real success is training teams of people, but luckily we have a group of like-minded people and a great culture where everyone works as hard as they can to consistently deliver a great product," Reid says. "We take pride in taking what may be seen as a simpler product and making it the best you've ever had. We'd rather not make something without that approach."
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