Batter Up

After baseball dreams and a stint in the military, Patrick Davis finds a love of pastry

Sandwiched between a Chase Bank and a recently renovated restaurant space (that within days will become The Abbey), you'll find a dream come true.

For just more than a year, Patrick Davis has been mixing, whisking and baking in the kitchen of his quaint Sunrise Drive shop, Passion for the Love of Pastry. However, it has been well more than a year since Davis first dreamed of opening his own shop.

Davis remembers his first food-related job in 1995, at a small-chain grocery store on Speedway Boulevard called Reay's Ranch Market.

"I was a pastry cook, just a nobody who got told what to do," says Davis.

At the time, Davis was also in the military.

"I never went to culinary school. I went straight to the military, and the funny thing is that what I did in the military had nothing to do with desserts or food: I worked with nuclear weapons," he says, admitting that being a pastry cook is what he really wanted to be doing.

Three round wooden tables line the sidewalk in front of the sparkling glass windows at Passion for the Love of Pastry. The sign above the door features elegant, cursive red-velvet-colored text that reads "Passion," followed underneath in a different font, "For the Love of Pastry."

A ding-dong of a door chime greets visitors, as often does a smiling woman named Ricki Weinstein-Wolf. She stands behind a glistening display case containing pastries that look like pure pieces of art—almost too perfect to eat. But, of course, they're made to be eaten, and after trying a Southwestern S'more or a Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch, it's hard not to appreciate the passion put into the creation of every little treat.

Behind the counter is an open doorway into the kitchen, where a man stands over a wooden countertop in a white apron. The room roars with energy; a walk-in freezer is on the left, with a walk in refrigerator in the back; ovens are built into a wall; and stainless-steel washbasins sit directly across from the fridge. Individual order forms lay on wooden clipboards, which are later hung with magnets directly above the oven for reference.

Metal shelves line the white walls, and are stocked with tubs of the types of things you'd expect to find in such a shop: flour, baking soda, baking chocolate, trail mix, dried fruit and measuring cups. In the center of the kitchen is a giant wooden worktable, organized with appliances including a mixer, an induction burner, pots, a strainer, whisks, countless knives and disposable decorating bags.

It is a baker's paradise, but for Davis, it is a place of work, a place he loves and calls his own.

Before settling into this shop, Davis took the time to experiment—not with his recipes or baking techniques, but with his career.

"Coming out of high school, I wanted to play baseball really badly, but I decided not to and went straight to the military," he explains.

At one point after enlisting in the military, Davis decided to try out for a baseball team. He began traveling back and forth for tryouts. "I kept making cut after cut after cut, but then the war came, and I got cut off from that dream," he says.

Davis served for nine months in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.

Now, he stands over the wooden worktable, which takes up a big chunk of the kitchen. He slices a sheet of carrot cake, layered with a cinnamon cream-cheese mousse, into rectangular bars. In between each cut, he runs the knife through a propane cylinder that's spewing out flames—in order to heat the blade to achieve precision.

After he finishes cutting the carrot cake, he wraps it up and places it in the walk-in freezer. "That was my No. 1 thing," he says about his baseball dreams. "But that's all right, because I like what I'm doing now."

Weinstein-Wolf makes her way into the kitchen to help with the dishes after all of the customers are taken care of.

"Patrick is now (also) the delivery man for our wholesale accounts. He is usually here around 4:45 a.m. in order to deliver orders," says Weinstein-Wolf. "I come in later, and I can already tell he has been baking. There are already dishes in the sinks."

She explains that Davis is a perfectionist. "Everything is weighed. It's the only way you get consistency," she explains.

Without so much as a sip of water, Davis was on to his next task: creating the filling for a key-lime-blueberry tart. The room instantly felt cooler from the opening and closing of the freezer. Soon, the sound of a whisk sloshing along a stainless steel bowl—mixing and beating and repeating—was joined by noise from the powerful water pressure back at the sink.

"I had always wanted to open up my own place; I just never knew when the right time was. I always wanted more experience," Davis says. Before opening his own shop, Davis worked at Beyond Bread, Primo at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa, the Westin La Paloma and Fox Restaurant Concepts.

Finally, he felt he was experienced enough, found the time and made his dream come true. "It took me about a year to open up this shop," says Davis.

Now the self-taught pastry chef calls the shots. His workspace is filled with notes that he scribbles down when something new comes to mind.

"I am constantly changing things," said Davis. "That's the difference between an ordinary pastry chef and a great pastry chef."

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