We always hear about the shiny, new food companies. The Spot is a series about the Philadelphia area's more established establishments and the people behind them.

Amanda Eap and Andre Chin's understated Artisan Boulanger Patissier has been turning out impressive French breads and pastries since 2002 — first on the corner of 12th and Morris Streets, and since 2013 at 12th and Mifflin.The baguettes emerge from the oven slender, blistered and tan, the croissants flaky and redolent of European butter.

Eap and Chin have also evolved with the times. Chin took to his pastry shop to create his version of the infamous Cronut a few years back and Eap recently introduced two types of banh mi (Vietnamese style hoagies).The couple isn't Vietnamese, or French for that matter.

Both were born in Cambodia. Eap's family settled in Philadelphia, where her father owned a doughnut shop in West Philadelphia. Chin, meanwhile, was in Paris, studying baking. Their paths crossed during one of Chin's visits to the United States, when he stopped into her dad's store, where Eap was then working. They married and set up Artisan not long after.The couple has witnessed the transformation of the East Passyunk corridor. But Eap still vividly recalls a time when the aging Italian ladies shopping for bread didn't want loaves without seeds and looked askance at a new bakery owned by an Asian couple.

When I sat down to talk about the last 14 years, she wanted to talk more about what has changed for the better.

Question: Why did you choose to open what is essentially a French bakery in an Italian neighborhood?

Answer: First, I thought it was a good opportunity because the Italian and French, they do a lot of stuff similarly. That's what we were thinking. The bread, most of the crust is almost the same. The French more crusty, the Italian more soft a little bit, but the crust is almost the same.

Q: Did people like it right away?

A; Not really. The old people, Italian, who mostly lived here then, they saw that we were Asian. They didn't see that the bread is really the same. But they changed, and the neighborhood changed, and eventually we got busy.

Q: When did things start to change?

A: You know [former Inquirer food columnist] Rick Nichols? We'd been open a couple years and back then we supplied baguettes to Air France. Rick saw me loading the trunk of the car one day with all this bread. He asked what I was doing. Then he started coming in every day asking so many questions. He asked for recipes. We thought, who is this guy? So annoying! But then the article [he wrote about us] came out and it really helped us. After the story came out, we got a thousand phone calls. So that was the first thing that made us busy. Around 2007, it picked up because the old Italians were moving out and then all the new couples, young couples, different international people moved in. That's when we really noticed a big change. Yeah, sales picked up and then we start having a lot of customers.

Q: You and Andre are Cambodian. Did you ever think about starting a food business that had to do with Cambodian flavors or pastries or anything?

A: No. I never wanted to do anything like that. Andre became a baker in France.

Q: When you go out to dinner, do you tend toward French and European type things, or do you like to eat Cambodian or Asian or some other type of food?

A: Well, me and my husband like to explore a lot of food, like Chinese food, Italian, French, Mexican. We don't have a preference.

Q: How do you cook at home?

A: Honestly, I cook more Chinese food. I don't know how to cook Cambodian food, because my mom, when we lived together, my mom always cooked. I prepped. That's it. I just chopped vegetables.

Q: How did you learn to make Chinese food?

A: Well, I go out to eat and then, I don't know, my mind's thinking, "OK, this time I like this and that [flavor]," and I go home, I try it myself. Sometimes I watch Chinese cooking on YouTube.

Q: Other than breads and pastries, you and Andre specialize in banh mi sandwiches, which are Vietnamese. What inspired you to start making them?

A: Well, I have had some banh mi around here in South Philly. I got some ideas from that, and then in West Philly, I tried a tofu one. It seemed a lot of people liked the tofu.

Q: You moved your oven from the old space to the new space. Why did you do that?

A: That oven is very special for French bread. It has a steamer. It was expensive to move, but not as expensive as buying a new one. Those ovens cost almost $50,000. You could make bread without it, but it's not the same crust. We ordered that oven special when we first opened.

Q: How long were you closed, between the old location and this location?

A: Well, we closed over there April, we opened here August. Maybe about 4 months. Around that time. Every time one of our regulars saw me, "When you going to open?" They said they cannot wait.

Q: In the past few years, the bakery has been a semifinalist for a James Beard Award. How did you find out about that?

A: A lot of my customers came in the first time that we were nominated and told me. But I didn't know what it is, honestly. The first time that they nominated me, I didn't know what a James Beard is. Then, one of my customers explained it to me, and I said, "Oh, wow!" Then my friend, she texted me, "You're nominated by James Beard." I texted her back, "What? Nominated by James Beard, what does that mean?" Well, after I figured it out, I was so excited and so happy. Now we've been nominated three times.

Q: Do you have anything new planned for the business? Any menu changes on the horizon? A: My husband just talked to me about it a month ago; he wants to put more sandwiches on the menu, but we don't know what yet. We are thinking it out. Maybe more banh mi or some panini.

Q: Part of what is so great about the banh mi is that your baguette is just the right texture for a sandwich. What gives the bread that great texture?

A: Well, we have a special technique to it. ... We let the dough have a slow rise. We don't force the loaves to grow fast. A lot of bakeries that we know, they put a lot of yeast in the dough and then in a couple hours they are ready to bake. We don't do that. Ours takes eight hours to rise, at least.

Q: Usually by noon or so the pastry case is pretty empty. Do you have any advice for people who want to get here before things are sold out? What time should they get here?

A: Around 8 or 9. On the weekends, we sell out fast.

Joy Manning, a writer and editor who has covered food and restaurants in Philadelphia for more than decade, is also the executive editor of Edible Philly and Edible Jersey magazines. Also follow her on Instagram @joymanning.