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Pastry Chefs Take Their Star Turns

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Restaurateurs are bringing pastry chefs out of hidden pantries, placing them front and center in the hierarchy and sometimes smack-dab in the middle of the dining room.

They don't have glamorous jobs -- unless you consider standing on your feet for 50 to 70 hours a week glamorous -- but pastry chefs, long the kitchen's unsung heroes fighting for a burner on the stove between lunch and dinner, are getting well-deserved attention.

To see them plying their craft in person, check out:

· Blue Duck Tavern, where the blue-and-white-tiled open kitchen for new pastry chef Laurent Merdy resembles a French patisserie with a touch of American home kitchen thrown in: Mason jars of preserved Toigo Orchards peaches line the shelves. 1201 24th St. NW; 202-419-6755; http://www.blueducktavern.com/ .

· Willow, which turned the pizza station in the middle of the dining room into a sweet pastry setup to showcase Kate Jansen's talents. 4301 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington; 703-465-8800; http://www.willowva.com/ .

· 1789 Restaurant, where Zoe Behrens and her pastry kitchen are visible from the street in the old F Scott's storefront. 1226 36th St. NW; 202-965-1789; http://www.1789restaurant.com/ .

-- David Hagedorn

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