Claire Damon, New Girl on the Block

The interior of the shop is black, white, spacious and dramatically lit; the ambient lighting is dim and a bit moody and the spotlights are just where they should be: shining on the wall of baguettes, the pyramids of preserves, the piles of rustic loaves and the simple, minimally decorated sweets.

On a recent visit to the two-month-old boutique, the long, narrow windows were showcasing still-life quality brioches and madeleines and a woman in white was meticulously arranging a basket of bread.  Asked if she was the chef, she stood tall, looked me in the eyes, smiled and said, “Oui, and the owner and salesgirl, too.”

I don’t think she’ll be salesgirling for long – I can see her having to take time off soon for a few fashion shoots and tv spots (she’s too gifted and beautiful not to be rushed by the media) -nor can I see her having a long-term hold on the distinction of being the sole woman pastry chef with her own shop.  Since she was trained by Pierre Herme (you can taste that training in her tarts), and since Pierre told me that more and more women are coming to his pastry school, Claire Damon may become a role model and trendsetter. For now, she’s a singular sensation.

des Gateaux et du Pain, 63, blvd Pasteur, Paris 15

Dorie Greenspan