Michelle Hernandez outside of Le Dix-Sept.
Michelle Hernandez outside of Le Dix-Sept. Taken Apr. 21, 2023. Photo by Christina MacIntosh.

The Mission is a land of conchas, not canelés; tacos, not tarts. But Michelle Hernandez, the baker and owner of 18th Street’s Le Dix-Sept Patisserie, took a page out of the neighborhood’s book when she started her French pastry business as a street vendor in the neighborhood in 2011.

Hernandez was born in the East Bay, attended Cal, and lived in the Bay for six more years while she saved money — and studied French at night — to move to France for culinary school.

“The food scene was very different then,” said Hernandez. “It was all about cuisine, and less about sweets. It was all about being in a restaurant and traditional, formal education.”

By the time Hernandez returned to the Bay Area hoping to start her own business, her sister, who was living in the Mission, said the neighborhood’s street-food culture might be a good place to start.

She started selling her pastries in 2011 at 22nd and Guerrero, at a Friday pop-up hosted by a gallery called Fabric8, now Luna Rienne.

“They used to host food trucks,” said Hernandez. “But before there were food trucks, it was just vendors outside.”

She also hosted pop-ups at other businesses and sold her products at the Noe Valley Farmers Market.

“It took a long time,” Hernandez said, of building Le Dix-Sept Patisserie on 18th between Mission and Capp. She secured a brick-and-mortar location for the bakery after eight years, in December, 2019.

What at the time was a plot twist is now a cliché:

“The week that we were talking to all the banks and everything was when the pandemic was announced,” Hernandez said, of her original plans to renovate the space.

So Le Dix-Sept Patisserie became a pop-up once again, selling bread at Ritual Coffee and Noe Valley’s now-shuttered Douglas. Hernandez was finally able to open the 18th Street spot in October, 2020.

Though the 12-year-old business has survived the normal early culling of the culinary world — not to mention a pandemic — Hernandez still does not quite feel out of the woods.

“There’s just so much to learn,” she said. “Especially in baking and business.”

Hernandez now has six employees, but she is still in the kitchen after closing Le Dix-Sept Patisserie in the afternoon, and at 6 a.m., to help bake the pastries for the day — though her assistant baker begins at 4:45 a.m.

A decade in, rolling out dough and waking up before dawn has not left Hernandez jaded, even on a Friday afternoon, when baking is still the weekend plan:

“I’m pretty tired right now, but I know I’m going to do something fun when I get to the kitchen, and then I’m going to be very proud tomorrow morning when we bake it.”

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Christina grew up in Brooklyn and moved to the Bay in 2018. She studied Creative Writing and Earth Systems at Stanford.

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  1. Love her spirit and wish her all the very best! 🙂

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  2. I love this place! It’s more than just sweets too, the focaccia is possibly the best thing on the menu.

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