Out of the box.
"I was taught early on that you didn't have to stay in the lines," says San Francisco lesbian chef Elizabeth Falkner. An innovator in the world of pastry, Falkner has made people think differently about dessert -- her culinary creations are just as much art as they are sugar and flour.
The unique architecture of her desserts and their unusual blend of flavors have made Falkner one of the most recognized pastry chefs in the United States, named Pastry Chef of the Year by San Francisco magazine and Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has also been featured in such publications as Pastry Art and Design, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Travel and Leisure, and Epica, Japan's travel magazine.
Falkner's creative flair is not surprising, considering that she's a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute. She began her professional career in the 1990s, honing her talents at notable Bay area restaurants such as Masa's, Elka and Rubicon. In 1997, she opened Citizen Cake, and imaginative patisserie of her own, in a small location in the South of Market area. When business grew, she moved the restaurant to its current location in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, near the city's ballet, opera and symphony.
"I do this because I love the expressions on people's faces when they get dessert," she says. "It physically does things to you. It may be on the indulgent side, but I don't think you have to feel bad about it."