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The Shop: Daren Pierse of Arizona Collision Specialists

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Daren Pierse
Owner
Arizona Collision Specialists, Scottsdale, Ariz.

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We hear it can get pretty hot in Arizona.
I moved here in 1989 from Oklahoma at the end of October, and I thought it was the best thing in the world. It was dry and 70 degrees during the day and low 60s at night. But that next summer I had a rude awakening. A record high of 123 degrees was recorded at the airport. It was my first summer here, and the most brutal, too.

Are you a Diamondbacks fan?
No, I’m more into college sports because I didn’t grow up with any professional teams in Oklahoma. I’m an Oklahoma State fan.

So how did you go from being a pastry chef to a collision specialist?

I went from the kitchen to food and beverage management to resort management, which then led to resort development construction. From there, I built subdivisions. I caught the residential construction boom just perfect and got out just in time and was looking for a way to hedge my bet. Besides, my wife was ready to kill me for staying at home! So I thought investing in a collision shop would be a pretty good thing because people still wreck cars and I saw a ton of opportunity from the customer experience side of things. Growing up with the Ritz-Carlton and Sheraton, they beat that customer service into you constantly, so every time I look at organizations, the first thing I think about is how much opportunity might be on that front.

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Which do you enjoy the most, baking or cooking?
I don’t bake much. My daughter had her birthday recently, and I had my former assistant pastry chef make the cake for me. With baking, you have to have all the right equipment to do it – the ovens, scales, etc. I don’t have that at my home anymore. And baking is a science – it’s a lot more difficult than cooking. Pastry chefs always say that anybody can stand behind a grill and pull something off it. But I do enjoy cooking, especially around the holidays.

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What are your favorite things to cook?
I’m heavily French influenced because that’s the way I was classically trained, so I’m a big lamb fan. Also, anything related to Thanksgiving.  

Since you’re the cook, do all of the cooking responsibilities at home fall on you?
This is bad, but we typically only eat at home on Wednesday nights. My daughter is very active in ballet and also off the charts with math, so we’re constantly going to tutoring sessions and ballet classes around town. So neither my wife nor I cook at all except for weekends when we’ll have big parties. But it’s she who handles the Wednesday night meal, not me.

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What do you do to relax?
I really like science and trying to understand physics and looking at how the big picture and the big solar system interplays with the small, nano, atomic scale. I like trying to figure out the link between those and why there is no golden formula we can apply to the super small as well as the super large.

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