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About Elizabeth Faulkner
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Three-dimensional cakes, off-center cakes, cakes with sugar shards jutting from them, a caramelized sugar teeter-totter balancing equal rounds of fruit sorbet and crème fraîche. Cakes shaped like the Guggenheim Museum. Avant-garde pastry. Dessert artist Elizabeth Falkner takes these artistically inspired visions dancing in her head and transforms them into culinary delights. "It is not my tendency to make anything round," she says, and her cakes are anything but.

Topped with her signature explosion of sugar spirals, pulled sugar ribbons and fruit tuiles, Elizabeth Falkner’s dessert creations have become the talk of the pastry world.

She has been featured in numerous publications such as Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Pastry Art & Design, Gourmet and W, and has been recognized with many awards such as "Rising Star Chef" in 1995 from the San Francisco Chronicle and "Pastry Chef of the Year" by San Francisco magazine.

Falkner’s talent for architecturally breathtaking cakes and unusual blends of flavors has led to commissions ranging from The California Museum of Art to celebrity special occasion cakes such as the luscious "Je Ne Sais Quoise" cake she created for actress Sharon Stone’s birthday.

Amazingly, this dessert artist draws her pastry inspiration from sculpture, film and architecture. In fact, she prepares blueprints and cardboard patterns for many of her creations. Other desserts are born from a flash of inspiration and are created on the spot.

She has even done "food performance art," such as a chocolate ball dripping raspberry sauce onto a piece of chocolate cake for an art gallery opening. "I love architecture in dessert because the medium asks for it," she says. "The chemical structures of chocolate and sugar are meant to be modeled and molded."

Falkner’s desserts often defy gravity and convention such as her cake that "leans" on its side to resemble one of Richard Serra’s complex sculptures to one inspired by the Los Angeles skyline.
Her creations are true works of art.

Not surprising considering Falkner’s background in fine arts. This California native whose father is an artist, originally planned on pursuing a career in film after obtaining her degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. However, following pastry stints at several of San Francisco’s most renowned restaurants including Masa’s, Elka and Rubicon, she decided to make pastry her medium of choice. In 1997 she opened her own dessert restaurant, the cinematically inspired "Citizen Cake" ("a cake for every citizen") to wide critical acclaim.

Her desserts are always challenging, mixing the expected with the unexpected. Such as a crème brûlée nestled between two glassine sugar tuiles.

Falkner takes California cuisine to the next level, layering her desserts with blends of exotic spices and flavors such as pepper, anise, passion fruit, pears, and kumquats. "My cakes have several layers of information that I want to communicate to people and I want to actually show it so people will say, ‘I’ve got to have one of those!"

Everything about this passionate artist, from the post-modern design of her patisserie to her dessert philosophy says innovative.

Even the way she names recipes shows her flair for creativity. Her patisserie menu features imaginatively titled desserts such as: "A Chocolate Work Orange," "Get Ready Cake," and "Tropical Shag."

Falkner’s signature pièce de résistance is her sugar art. She uses an ultrafine baker’s sugar to create her signature pulled sugar ribbons, roses, cages, spirals and tuiles. Stalactites of sugar, teetering sugar shards, sweet hard and soft meringues. Glistening, colorful--they make you stop and look and gaze with awe before taking that first bite.

She likes to challenge how people think about dessert. According to her, "food should lead you to dessert, so think, dessert first! Desserts are really about pleasure, with or without a meal. They should be visually seductive when looked at and ethereal when bitten into."

Falkner currently is sharing her passion for pastry and other dessert delectables on a national media tour where she is teaching home bakers to work with heated sugar to create magnificent adornments to add instant panache to any dessert.


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