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“I needed a challenge,” she says. “And it’s been a challenge to reinvent the wheel here and build a team who believes in my vision while also keeping everyone motivated.”
And what is that vision? Rochelle is trained in classical French techniques, and L’Auberge has always had a French flair. But Rochelle steers clear of heavy ingredients and instead prefers to cook seasonally and with ingredients growing in her own backyard. She uses herbs and fruit growing on-site at L’Auberge. “I like using my surroundings, and I love watching things grow,” says Rochelle. “I use the flowers that grow on the herbs to garnish plates.”
Rochelle also embraces nose-to-tail cooking in which all parts of the animal are used. Fresh whole fish is flown into L’Auberge daily, and she works with large cuts of meat, using the bones to create a fumé used in sauces. This summer, she’s planning on roasting whole pigs on-site.
Rochelle manages a kitchen staff of up to 30 people, and she gives a lot of credit to her chef de cuisine, Maribel Silva, who has worked with Rochelle for 10 years. Overseeing a restaurant that serves three meals daily at a resort with room service and steady banquet business keeps Rochelle on her toes. But when she takes time off, Rochelle misses the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. “Cooking is the best part of my day,” she says.
L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek, 301 L’Auberge Lane in Uptown at L’Auberge de Sedona (928-282-1661)
Click here to download Chef Daniel’s recipe for Colorado Lamb Chop
Christopher Dobrowolski: The SchoolHouse Restaurant
After nearly 10 years working at popular Sedona restaurants including The Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits, the Barking Frog Grille and Ken’s Creekside American Bistro, Christopher Dobrowolski decided to flip a coin. Heads: He was moving the family to Belize. Tails: He was opening his own restaurant. The coin toss actually resulted in Belize, but Chris shakes his head and laughs. “What were we going to do when the money ran out?”
Instead, Chris and his wife, Laura Fayette-Dobrowolski, opened The SchoolHouse Restaurant in Cottonwood in a tiny building that served as the first grade school in the Verde Valley from 1878 until 1917. The two watched construction videos on YouTube and wound up doing most of remodeling themselves. The 44-seat restaurant opened in March 2013, and, one year later, the buzz is still going strong. Chris, who began his career working at a Jewish deli in California for $2 an hour when he was 14, says he’s putting service back into the service industry.
“I was raised by a single mom, and she would save up enough money to take us all out to dinner once a year,” says Chris, a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. “I remember those experiences. We were treated well because the owners knew we didn’t have to go to their restaurant – we could have chosen a different one. The SchoolHouse is about please and thank you and the way things used to be.”