Elizabeth Falkner is a renowned chef, author and television personality. She was San Francisco-based for 20 years, helming standout concepts like Citizen Cake, a modern patisserie and café, and Orson, a New American restaurant, before relocating to New York in 2012.
Falkner was the first female chef of Holland America Line’s culinary council and is a fixture on culinary competitions, including “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo and “Iron Chef America” on the Food Network.
She is a James Beard Foundation Award nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef (2005) and continues to cook for many charity events and food and wine festivals all over the world.
We asked Falkner to share her favorite high-impact ingredients.
I love traditional braised collards with ham hock, but try eating them julienned and tossed raw, like one would use kale in a salad. I make a cumin-spiced tahini or peanut vinaigrette for a collard green salad with toasted seeds, and I love watching people react to how delicious it is. I’ve also used blanched whole leaves as a wrapper for dürüm, a Turkish spiced lamb and rice filling, as well as a wrapper for tamales.
This still seems to me an underappreciated nut. I love Brazil nuts in chocolate chip cookies and also chopped up with Serrano chiles, cilantro, citrus zest and fish sauce for a crudo salmon or crudo of portobello mushrooms.
This is nature’s candy. I cannot explain how deep my love for this fruit is. It goes way back to date shakes in California, but my favorite is to drizzle them with EVOO and serve them with shaved raw fennel or celery, Parmesan and walnuts.
Cave-Aged Gruyère Cheese
This is absolutely one of my favorite things, whether it is in a soufflé, in mac and cheese, or in fondue. I also add it to Black Forest ham and butter on a baguette with cornichons—it’s my favorite sandwich!
A small, bright-orange berry/super-fruit found in the northern hemisphere, sea buckthorn has a unique flavor with high acidity, and it’s nutrient packed. It comes in juice, IQF, dehydrated and in oil. I adore this fruit and have used it in pasta dishes, chocolate bonbons, granola, desserts, as well as vinaigrettes.