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Small delights from Inman's Parks 

Kirk Parks, 46, is pastry chef and co-owner of one of the city's hottest restaurants, Rathbun's, which celebrated its first anniversary in May.

Creative Loafing: What's your background?

Parks: I worked in a steel mill out of high school. When the bottom fell out -- I didn't really like steel -- I went to work in kitchens, which I had done in high school. I moved to Houston and walked into Brennan's, with its wallpaper and marble floors. I didn't have enough experience to cook, so I became a food runner. Kevin [Rathbun] was the sous chef. That was 1986. I joined Kevin in Dallas at Baby Routh, where I got into pastry and then I did a stint in Calistoga [Calif.]. From there I went to the Jumby Bay resort in Antigua, before joining Kevin at Nava. I spent nine years there.

Any formal education?

I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta at night after 20 years in the business. Once you get to the point of thinking you can't learn anything, you're done.

Tell us about the petite portion sizes of Rathbun's desserts.

It's a great way to introduce people to different flavors. It's not as filling and it's more satisfying. Dessert is a very important course in the meal, as important as being nicely greeted at the door or having a good cup of coffee.

Favorite ingredients?

Milk chocolate, bananas and peanut butter -- the holy trinity. These are homey ingredients; they make people smile. I want people to remember their childhood and reflect on what Mom or Grandmother made. One of the things we sell is comfort. Our peanut butter cream pie is an icon of Atlanta, I think.

So how many of your customers have dessert?

In most restaurants that serve large desserts, it's 30-35 percent. We serve 80-85 percent of customers. It's just three or four bites and it changes every month, depending on the availability of ingredients.

So Atkins hasn't hurt your dessert orders?

We'll get past that. Diets are fads. Eat more dessert!

Rathbun's, 112 Krog St., Suite R. 404-524-8280. www.rathbunsrestaurant.com.

chefstable@creativeloafing.com

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