Second Helpings

Pierre Today, Gone Tomorrow: It's a pity, but the Valley's premier French-pastry craftsman is saying au revoir to Arizona.

Pierre Fauvet and his wife, Joni, have operated Pierre's Pastry Cafe for the past seven years. But the work is grueling, and the place hasn't been as wildly successful financially as it has been artistically. (A less-than-ideal location and four dead summer months are probably the two biggest culprits.) So they recently sold the place--including equipment, recipes and Pierre's name. They'll be moving on to Seattle, where they plan to open a cafe.

The new proprietors are an Iranian couple with no previous baking experience. So Pierre will be staying on, probably through the Christmas season, to help them get the hang of the operation. Let's hope that Pierre teaches them not to cut corners with ingredients or take baking shortcuts. Pierre's pastries have been the best in town because of an uncompromising commitment to quality. Goodness knows there's no shortage of local pastry shops where you can get mediocre croissants, cakes, tarts and brioches.

Pierre's Pastry Cafe is at 7119 East Shea in Scottsdale, in the shopping center there. Call 423-2510. Cover-Up: Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to make a restaurant reservation in my own name. Of course, I don't, because once I sat down, I expect I'd be treated far differently from the way readers who don't write a restaurant column would be.

I got an inkling about what kind of special treatment I might receive from a friend of my daughter's. For the past several months, he's been the host at a well-known Valley seafood house, where the chef is tremendously anxious to win a Best of Phoenix award.

When the chef discovered that his host knew me, and that I'd eventually be stopping in during my annual Best of Phoenix rounds, he hatched a plan. He'd keep a careful eye on the host, to see whom he greeted with particular attention and deference. Then he'd rush over and ask if it were me.

Naturally, before I did go, I told the host I'd be coming, and warned him against giving me any sort of special welcome or notice. He played the part perfectly, and I had a quiet, uneventful meal.

A few days after my visit, however, the chef spotted the host having a long, animated conversation with a customer who had just walked in. When the guest was seated, the chef came over and asked, "Is that Seftel?" Although the host assured him it wasn't me, some misguided sixth sense told the chef I'd finally arrived. "Oh, I know you can't tell me," he said with a wink.

The lucky guy never knew what hit him. His meal was lovingly prepared under the chef's guidance. The chef even left the kitchen several times to make sure that the meal was unfolding to his guest's delight. The staff was extra attentive. No doubt the fellow spent the next day at the office singing the restaurant's praises.

We'd all like that kind of special treatment. The best restaurants, though, manage to make everyone feel special.

--Howard Seftel

Suggestions? Write me at hseftel@newtimes.com or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

 
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