"I'm not saving lives. I'm making chocolate shoes."
What Simone Faure says may be true, but you wouldn't always know it. People line up at her shop, La Patisserie Chouquette (1626 Tower Grove Avenue; 314-932-7935), desperate for her ornate baked wares as if their lives depended on it.
Faure, a former pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, made her way north when the hotel's St. Louis location needed a kosher pastry chef. Eventually, she branched out on her own, opening a lovely French bakery in the Botanical Heights neighborhood in 2013.
Stepping into La Patisserie Chouquette, one is transported to a pastry fantasy land: Jewel-toned macarons are displayed in glass cases, ornately adorned cakes fit for Marie Antoinette decorate the space, and designer shoes and purses made out of chocolate look good enough to wear -- but are too good not to eat. There's no question that Faure is a artistic genius.
Faure took a break from her demanding schedule (days start as early as 2 a.m.) to share her thoughts on the St. Louis dining scene, her love for the Karate Kid and wanting to be a vampire with awesome hair.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did? In high school, I was the president, vice president and co-treasurer of the Ralph Macchio Fan Club, New Orleans chapter.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Every day I drink a blood orange [San] Pelegrino. It's a must.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Seriously? I'd be a vampire -- no contest! Not the ridiculous, skin glistening in the sun Twilight type, or the True Blood hypersexual, synthetic brew drinking kind. I'm talking The Vampire Diaries/The Originals: street strutting, awesome hair-having. I've just spent an eternity waiting for that kind of vampire. Yep. I'd also like to time travel.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year? I've noticed a surge in dessert indulgence. It's awesome. It means that people are ready to stop blaming food for their issues and just enjoy life through food.
Who is your St. Louis food crush? I know that I should say that it's my husband Damien [grill chef at the Ritz in Clayton]. But it's the entire team of Bombay Food Junkies. Ohhh, so good!
Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? Josh Charles of Elaia. The boy is mad talented.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? Pink peppercorn: flavorful, brilliant color, bold -- and if used too much, it'll bite you in the ass.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say? It's far better than people outside of Missouri would expect. The variety of food styles and origins are expressive for a city that isn't considered a "food" destination.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. Shortening! Seriously, you might as well take a dump in your cake batter.
What is your after work hangout? After our last delivery of the day, most Saturdays you can find my assistant Patrick [Devine] and I at one of two places: Hiro Asian Kitchen or Mai Lee. We go over the week and drown our sorrows in bahn mi and fried chicken.
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure? Starbucks caramel Frapuccino.
What would be your last meal on earth? Lasagna. That's not a meal, I know, but in order to have the meal that I would want, I would have to suffer through a visit to my mother's house, and hell, it just ain't worth it. So lasagna it is.