Chow Bella

Embedded at Petite Maison: Zach Fowle in the Kitchen

For most restaurateurs, it's simply about gluttony. But James and Wendy Porter of Petite Maison in Scottsdale are gluttons for punishment. There's no other explanation for why they would invite Chow Bella contributors to work both the front of the house and the kitchen on a weekend, and during Arizona Restaurant Week. Today: Zach Fowle mans the soufflés. Later this week, Lauren Saria shares her experiences as hostess and Wendy Porter offers the view from the other side.

Most people in the restaurant industry are of the opinion that everybody who wishes to eat in a restaurant should, at some point in his or her life, work in one. The idea is that after this compulsory period of service-industry work, of sweating in a hot kitchen or getting shit on by whiny customers while working hours that get you home for bed at a time when others are just waking up, you'll be a little more likely to treat your servers with respect, a little more willing to wait an extra few minutes for your meal, and a little more appreciative of the precision required to make your experience -- and that of each of the dozens of diners also flowing through the restaurant that night -- perfect.

They're right.

"There's a lot more involved in running a restaurant than the pictures of the food, the good and bad reviews, and the uneducated opinions that come out," James Porter, chef-owner of Petite Maison says to me on the afternoon I've come in to work my shift at the Old Town eatery. "Those are all the things that we deal with on a daily basis -- this whole sea of people who are experts but have never actually worked in a kitchen."

I know, I say. It's why I'm here.

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Zach Fowle
Contact: Zach Fowle