January 26, 2023
Pastry chef Tova du Plessis, who has collected four James Beard Award nominations over her career, is preparing to open a second Essen Bakery in Philadelphia.
The new location will open this spring at 110 W. Berks St., near the border of Fishtown and Kensington. The original bakery, which opened in 2016, is situated in East Passyunk.
"I call Essen 'A little Jewish bakery in South Philly,' and I'm so excited to open a not-so-little Jewish bakery in North Philly," du Plessis said. "It's been a long road to find the right space, get the lease signed and make sure I'm ready to expand the business, and I'm very confident that the neighborhood will welcome this new location in with open arms."
The new Essen Bakery, which will be known as Essen North, occupies a spacious 2,800 square-foot venue with room for indoor dining. It is significantly bigger than Essen South (as the original bakery will now be known), which operates as a takeout window with outdoor seating.
Essen, which means "to eat" in Yiddish, is best known for its Chocolate Halva Babka, which ships nationwide. The bakery also serves bagels with a variety of schmears, challah bread, black-and-white cookies, Jewish apple cakes, seasonal fruit Danishes, cinnamon buns, "pop tarts" and coffee. Once open, Essen North also will serve espresso, sandwiches and a signature coffee blend from Elixr.
du Plessis' food reflects her South African and Jewish heritage, and is also influenced by her technical training and work in prestigious restaurants like Zahav. In 2019, StarChefs named Tova Philadelphia's rising star chef. She also was named a semifinalist for outstanding baker in America every year from 2017 through 2020 by The James Beard Foundation. du Plessis won the Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay" in 2021.
Essen South, located at 1437 E. Passyunk Avenue, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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