La Patisserie Chouquette's Simone Faure shares 3 meals that changed her life

Simone Faure, owner and pastry chef at La Patisserie Chouquette, knows good food when she sees it. Her cakes and pastries at the shop are beautifully detailed and delicious – it’s no wonder many sell out daily. Don’t let her upscale aesthetic fool you, though. This New Orleans native doesn’t discriminate, whether it’s low-country cooking or her French husband’s gourmet fare. Here, three meals that changed her life.

1. Palm Beach, Florida // 2008
“My husband, the first time he cooked for me, I’d had his food on the line before at work, but this was an intimate meal. He was in the kitchen the whole time, and I pulled up a chair and watched him cook. He goes, ‘I’m gonna make for you scallops in three ways.’ 

"So he’s got these scallops that are the size of my coffee cup, and he slices them. He had three pans on the stove, and he takes this mustard and coats the outside of the scallop and seasons it and rolls it in coriander. Then he starts to sear it, and the apartment is just wafting in this beautiful aroma. I could tell that he was trying to be all cute and sexy. And with each one that he finished, he plated it on this beautiful plate. He put either polenta down or some puree, so each one came with its own little sauce and a posh little fork. I’m eating this like, ‘Oh, my God. This is so great.’ 

"We get to the last scallop, and he goes, ‘Eh? What did you think?’ I was thinking, ‘I’m going to marry this dude; I have so much to teach him.’ He’s hilarious! He just served me three scallops and thought that we were done. Does this work on French women? I am not that! But that was his first time inviting me into his kitchen at his table, so I was very grateful for the meal – very surprised by how short it was, but very grateful. And I’m still here all these years later, so you know those scallops were banging.”

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2. Paris, France // 2008
“I was in France, it was my first trip, and my best friend, Jackie, was with me. She was homesick after three days, and she said, ‘I have to have McDonald’s.’ I said, ‘Look, there’s this cafe over here; it’s next to McDonald’s. We’re gonna try this place, and if you still want McDonald’s after this, we will go.’ … 

"Long story short, we ended up going to McDonald’s but not before we went to this nondescript place. But we sit down, and they only serve breakfast. Jackie orders scrambled eggs, and the guy comes back and goes, ‘We don’t make scrambled eggs.’ He goes, ‘I could put some sauce on the eggs.’ 

"So he brings it out, and it’s fried eggs with hollandaise, and then there were tomatoes on the side like real old school. I ate her eggs; I ate my eggs. It was perfect. I thought, ‘I could eat this for breakfast every day.’”

3. Patois in New Orleans // 2010
“There’s a restaurant in New Orleans – it’s in an old house – called Patois on Laurel Street. I ordered grits and grillades. It’s meat they stew, and it’s in this brown gravy with tomatoes and onions and spices and wine … you put that over grits. 

"The dish came, and I take that first spoon and I was done. I literally put my spoon down because I’m in my 30s. … Why is this just happening? I’ve been in New Orleans my whole life. What did my family do to deserve being excluded from this dish? Every bite of that plate was better than the last bite. This is the kind of dish that needs to be savored. It goes into a glass box with a mallet and a sign that says, ‘Break open in case of emergencies,’ like a last-meal-on-earth type thing. 

"I considered ordering another to-go to the point where I’m staring at my waiter in the back of his head, and he turns around and goes, ‘Did you need something?’ He must have felt my presence; my soul left my body.”

Meera Nagarajan is art director at Sauce Magazine.