Seasoned Chandler restaurateurs share recipe for success SanTan Sun News

Seasoned Chandler restaurateurs share recipe for success

September 20th, 2017 | by SanTan Sun News
Seasoned Chandler restaurateurs share recipe for success
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By Colleen Sparks

Assistant Managing Editor

Mix two seasoned restaurateurs with escargot and other classic French food, then add a dose of family-oriented charm and you have a winning recipe for a Chandler restaurant toasting its one-year anniversary.

Cuisine & Wine Bistro on South Alma School Road is busy with diners eager to try the flavorful escargot, veal chop, cuisses de grenouille or frog legs – as well as quiche, chocolate soufflé and other French specialties prepared by head chef and co-owner Fabrice Buschtetz.

Customers also like to sip the 125 different types of wine, many of which are French.

Fabrice, a France native and longtime chef, owns the restaurant with his wife, Ireland native Mairead. She and Fabrice owned and managed several restaurants together in France before moving to Gilbert.

“People are lucky enough to eat food prepared by a chef who’s been doing it for 30 years,” Mairead said. “He puts a lot of love into his food. He’s very passionate about it. It’s in their blood; his grandmother and mother had restaurants.

“I love good food,” Mairead added. “It’s cheaper than buying a ticket to Paris.”

The couple’s romance blossomed in Paris, where they met when Fabrice was 18 and Mairead was 19. On their first date, budding chef Fabrice cooked an omelet for Mairead, who worked in a hotel that housed the restaurant where Fabrice was employed.

Their love ripened like a fine wine and later they went to work in a restaurant Fabrice’s mother had bought for him near Chantilly, France.

Fabrice’s mother ran the front of the house in the restaurant and she trained Mairead as a waitress, while Fabrice worked as Chef de Cuisine.

After successfully owning and managing several restaurants together in France, Mairead and Fabrice decided to fulfill Fabrice’s longtime dream to live in the United States.

After visiting the United States many times, the pair finally moved to Gilbert with their children in 2013. They opened their first Cuisine & Wine Bistro on Warner Road east of McQueen Road in Gilbert in March 2015 before opening the Chandler location in August 2016.

Business is a family affair as their son, Killian, 23, of Chandler, works front of house at the couple’s Chandler restaurant.

Front-of-house responsibilities include looking after the servers, as well as greeting and serving customers and opening and closing the restaurant.

Killian is also training to be a sommelier.

Fabrice and Mairead’s daughter, Laura, 22, works front of house at the Gilbert eatery and their son, Steven, 25, of Chandler, runs the kitchen at Gilbert Cuisine & Wine Bistro.

While the Gilbert business is “more of a wine bistro,” where diners can drink wine as they listen to live music Friday and Saturday nights, the Chandler restaurant is “more of a dining experience,” Mairead said.

Customers are supportive in the Chandler and Gilbert restaurants, though the Chandler one draws residents who like to call it a night a bit earlier, she said.

The Chandler restaurant is open 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday while the Gilbert establishment’s hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Mairead said people from as far as Tucson drive to the Chandler Cuisine & Wine Bistro for the Escargots facon Fabrice, which are spicy, tender snails cooked in garlic butter with a tomato base served with croutons.

The Tomahawk – a dry-aged, long-bone ribeye steak – is also a crowd favorite, as is a French fish soup or Soupe de Poissons.

One of the chef’s recommended entrees is a 14-ounce, grilled Angus ribeye beurre Maître d’Hôtel served with cubed potatoes and a green salad. Another is the Espadon Grillé, Sauce Beurre Blanc, grilled swordfish with a beurre blanc sauce served with sautéed zucchinis.

The owners say French natives like to dine at their restaurant and often request Fabrice make certain dishes for them. He is happy to accommodate them.

The chef, who attended a culinary school northeast of Paris, said theirs is the only French restaurant in Chandler. Fabrice and Mairead like dining at another French restaurant in the Valley, Christopher’s Restaurant and Crush Lounge in Phoenix.

Everything on the menu at Cuisine & Wine Bistro is homemade.

“I really like to cook stew,” Fabrice said. “A lot of dishes have wine in the sauce,” he said, adding he’s “always loved cooking.”

Mairead is happy to help Fabrice in the kitchen and quick to sing his praises.

“There’s nothing that he’s frightened of,” she said. “He has trained many young chefs, who have owned their own restaurants. He gives them the magic of it.”

Mairead said the first year has been a success, with business growing. Initially the Chandler restaurant offered brunch on Sundays but the owners discovered diners were more interested in their famous dinners.

Loyal Gilbert customers came to the dining business’ grand opening in Chandler and word quickly spread about the new location.

“From the people who live here, they’ve been very supportive,” Mairead said. “We have some very, very good regular customers who come every week in the summer. We’re really looking forward to the winter coming up.”

Friday and Saturday nights tend to attract about 75 customers, while about 35 diners usually visit the Chandler spot Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, she said.

Mairead and Fabrice wanted to expand from their Gilbert restaurant eventually but had not planned to do it as quickly as they did.

However, the property manager for the shopping center on Alma School Road near Chandler Heights Road asked them if they would consider opening their restaurant there, where a previous eatery has closed.

“The area needed a restaurant like ours, family run,” with serious cuisine, Mairead said. “We like working with our family. It’s very good demographics (in Chandler). I think they love the fact that we work as a family. The people from Chandler are great people to help you.

“You really depend on word of mouth.”

She believes people also like to support an independently owned restaurant run by a creative family and to find French food in Chandler without having to drive to elsewhere in the Valley.

The family’s personalities balance each other out. Mairead said she’s a talkative Irishwoman, while Fabrice is shy but smiles often as he is happy living in this country. He also loves country music and classic cars and often rides a motorcycle with Mairead as his passenger.

While some people might think the dishes will be “expensive” with a “very small quantity of food,” they are pleasantly surprised to find ample portions at reasonable prices, Mairead said.

Appetizers range in price from $6 to $9, starters cost from $11 to $14 and the chef’s recommended entrees are priced from $18 to $30. During happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, customers can buy wine for $2 off per glass and order appetizers for $6, as well as beers and well drinks for $5.

For the rest of September, in honor of the Chandler restaurant’s one-year anniversary, happy hour will be extended.

On Wednesdays this month, anyone who comes in and says “Happy Anniversary” can take advantage of happy hour prices from the time the restaurant opens until it closes at night.

Fabrice and Mairead often adapt to meet customers’ desires. They are planning to expand and develop their selection of quiches at both restaurants.

They plan to propose them in the restaurants, then offer them “to go,” then possibly sell them wholesale.

For now, the couple is happy to enjoy this latest adventure. Their journey to Arizona occurred after a survey online revealed Arizona was one of the best areas in the United States in which to live.

After driving through the Phoenix area from Las Vegas, Mairead and Fabrice fell in love with the warm weather and mountains and their children were “all on board” with moving here, Mairead said.

It’s a long way from Mitchelstown, a small town in County Cork, Ireland, where Mairead was born and raised. She wanted to explore the world and expand her horizons so she moved to Paris at age 18.

“I always knew there was so much more that existed,” in the world, Mairead said. “You have to go and get out of your comfort zone. You have to learn other languages.”

She went to school in Paris and Ireland to become a bilingual secretary, speaking French and English, then began working in the hotel industry before meeting Fabrice and entering the culinary world.

“He made me an omelet with Swiss cheese; it was the best thing I’d ever tasted,” Mairead said. “We were made for each other.”

Though the pair works long hours, Mairead said nothing quenches their thirst like working in the restaurant business.

“It’s very much like a mosquito that bites you and (you) keep scratching,” she said. “You can’t do this if you’re not passionate about it. You do it because you love it.”

Cuisine Wine & Bistro in Chandler is located at 4991 S. Alma School Road and the restaurant in Gilbert is at 1422 Warner Road. Information: cuisineandwinebistro.com.

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