Elizabeth Falkner

American television chef

Elizabeth Falkner (born 12 February 1966) is an American chef, restaurateur and author

On top of roof overlooking Manhattan from Brooklyn


  • I love cooking and learning more every day in cooking. I look at food as I would languages or art and my vocabulary and palate keep expanding. I continue to do pastry and have been doing savory all along and it's a beautiful marriage. (discussing her interest in both pastry and savory cooking)
  • Traci Des Jardins and Mary Cech. Traci Des Jardins took a chance hiring me to do the desserts at Elka after I had just a bit of fine dining experience. It was an early Pacific Rim restaurant with excellent food. I told her I could do better with the desserts. I realize now that my approach to getting that job was unusual! I had tried the desserts, and they sucked, with nothing more imaginative than green tea crème brulee. So I designed a menu, and brought in samples incorporating Japanese ingredients and using a bento box. I got the job, dessert sales soared by 60%, and I later went with Tracy to Rubicon. Mary Cech taught me how to do chocolate work, pull sugar and build showpieces. I also learned what it was like to temper for 3 days straight without sleeping to help Jemal Edwards prep for a competition and then I started to compete myself – I was always going to break the rules! (discussing her mentors when she entered the food industry)
  • What I love about those shows is what I love about teaching. I love the discovery of new ingredients, and what can be done with them. I also studied film production, so I love seeing how the scenes are shot, and the story telling that is edited together. I also like “the game,” and going from being the “underdog” in the first The Next Iron Chef series to being the “scary chef” to watch in the second year! (discussing her motivations for doing cooking competition TV shows)
  • I would say that many women (and men) in the restaurant industry are, in fact standing up and have always run safe and professional kitchens and dining rooms. Let’s pay attention to those chefs and restaurants who have been doing so. This is an evolution into a new time of awareness and acceptance. Finally, women are getting closer to playing on the same playing field with the same rules if not changing the rules and the field altogether. When we clean up and move into a better workplace and support system for all, we will all more fairly get equity we deserve. (about sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse in the food and restaurant industry)
  • As a pastry chef, I never wanted to make super sweet dishes because that was not a driver for me. I like to look at classic themes and ask, “what else can we do with it?” We can’t just make and sell regular brownies. For example, instead of lemon cake, let’s make it with passionfruit. Often, it’s really about surprises in the familiar. My goal is to amplify certain tones while making others subtler, like sound design but in food. I enjoy remodeling aspects in pastries to create a new architecture for flavors, which also helps me in savory cooking. I also try to integrate a lot of spices and herbs into what I’m making and will look to different cultures, languages and people to understand the foundations of certain cuisines and dishes to re-interpret without being offensive. (her techniques of flavor pairings as a pastry chef and her process of incorporating unexpected ingredients)
  • My advice; understand the foundations of cuisines and then take it from there. Whether a savory dish inspires a pastry or a cocktail inspires a dessert, aspiring chefs need to make things that can be understood. They must study and learn a given ingredient and then experiment from there. As badly as we’d like to just be able to jump into crazy experiments, doing so from the get-go can get frustrating and will likely require an actual framework, not unlike any other medium. Whether you study music, dance or cooking, you simply cannot perform without guidance, planning and practice. (advice for chefs looking to experiment with different flavors)

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