SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A Bay Area baker is being celebrated after receiving high honors at one of the most important award ceremonies on the culinary arts scene.

On Tuesday, the staff welcomed home pastry chef Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie on California Street in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, with applause and a celebration.

It’s a sweet homecoming for Leong. She and her co-owner Michel Suas just won the coveted James Beard Foundation Award in Chicago, for Outstanding Baker in the country. It’s like the Oscars of the food world.

Leong says it’s still sinking in.

“This is a dream, you know,” said Leong. “It’s like right when you get into this profession you think James Beard one day, one day, but I can’t believe we got it!”

Leong shares the honor with her entire team which she calls her family.

Her staff starts baking at 4 a.m., making 2-3000 pastries a day. They use a thousand pounds of butter a week. It’s a key ingredient that makes their signature pastry “Kouign Amann” so unique.

Belinda calls their baking techniques both a science and an art.

“I really love baking. I think that’s what makes the energy in the air and the bakery so special,” says Leong. “I think a lot of our team is the same — they’re passionate”

From first-timers to loyal customers, they all couldn’t stop talking about these perfect pastries.

Chris Guinto was visiting from Hawaii. He’s definitely a fan.

“It’s flaky and moist. There’s not enough words to express how good this is,” he said.

Another customer found words.

“You’ll reach a new level of ecstasy!” he said. “You’ll have a Harry Met Sally moment.”

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