Bio | Interview | Featured Recipes
Chef Gale Gand is a nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, teacher, entrepreneur, and mother. Chef Gand has been recognized as Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year by The James Beard Foundation and by Bon Appetite magazine, as well as receiving a Beard award for best service for Tru, and has been inducted into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame.
For 8 years, Gale hosted the Food Network series "Sweet Dreams," the first nationally televised all-dessert show anywhere. Gale has made appearances on "The Martha Stewart Show," "Oprah," "The Dr. Oz Show," "Baking with Julia" (Child), "Good Morning America," "The Rachael Ray Show" and “The Today Show.” She competed on "Iron Chef America" and has been featured as a celebrity judge on "Food Network Challenge," "Last Cake Standing," "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Just Desserts."
Gale is the founding pastry chef and partner of the beloved Chicago restaurant Tru, opened with long-time culinary partner Chef Rick Tramonto and restaurateur Rich Melman in 1999. Tru quickly became a sensation among Chicago's fine dining community and has earned ecstatic praise from reviewers, receiving accolades from the James Beard Foundation; the Michelin, Mobil and AAA guides; Relais Gourmand; Wine Spectator magazine; and was named Chicago’s Best Restaurant by Chicago Magazine. Prior to opening Tru, Gand and Tramonto earned increasing acclaim at their Chicago area restaurants Trio and Brasserie T, and at Stapleford Park, an historic country house hotel near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, England, where in 1991 Tramonto and Gand became the first American chefs to earn a Michelin Red M.
Gale is a prolific cookbook author with eight titles to her credit, including her most recent “Gale Gand’s Lunch!” released in April 2014. Earlier titles (written with Rick Tramonto) include: American Brasserie (1997); Butter Sugar Flour Eggs (1999); and Tru: A Cookbook from the Legendary Chicago Restaurant (2004). On her own Gand authored Just a Bite (2001); Short and Sweet (2004); Chocolate and Vanilla (2006) and Gale Gand’s Brunch (2009), in its fifth printing. Gale also produces her own artisan root beer, "Gale's Root Beer," which is available nationally. And each year in the spring months, Gale and her son Gio supply local restaurants with wild ramps foraged from wooded areas near their suburban Chicago home.
Gale holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in silver and gold smithing, and attended culinary school at La Varenne in Paris.
For the latest information about Chef Gale Gand, visit www.galegand.com.
Q: How did you get started with your career? Please describe your journey of how you got to where you are today.
A: I started as a waitress at 19 in a vegetarian restaurant in Cleveland Ohio and got thrown in the kitchen one night on the line when a line cook did a no show-no call. I was terrified for about 5 seconds when I had this strange sense of calm come over me, like a calling, like I'd found my home…my place.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: Just everything…the art, the craft, feeding people, helping employees learn new skills and hone them, interacting with customers, tasting the food, bring samples home to my family, donating my time to raise money for charities, and I love how it connects me to others.
Q: Describe your cooking style.
A: My cooking is American with a modern twist, with a bit of influence from France, Italy, and England.
Q: What is your favorite Chefwear item and why?
A: The pants. So comfortable and functional!
Q: If you could choose any chef (dead or alive) to spend the day with, who would it be? Why?
A: Probably Escoffier just to see what kind of person he was and how he processed his thoughts. Plus, he probably didn't deal with women in the kitchen too much so I'd be curious just to be in that situation.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A: Maybe my French Box Wood rolling pin or my citrus juicer…the hinged 2-part kind.
Q: What is the funniest kitchen incident you've encountered?
A: Hard to say. Maybe the time Robin Williams came into dine with Harold Ramos. Robin came into the kitchen and asked to be a waiter. So I taught him to serve from the right and clear from the left, then sent him out to a table of a chef colleagues to drop dessert and it totally freaked out the table!
Q: What do you do to stay educated about new trends in the restaurant industry?
A: Read, eat out, travel.
Q: What is your favorite meal?
A: It's nothing fancy. My mom's cold Fried Chicken and a crisp apple, or Thanksgiving ending with Rhubarb Pie.
Q: Please list awards and accolades.
A: Lots but, 2 James Beard Awards, 1 Michelin star, Wine Spectator Grand Award, Pastry Chef of the year from Bon Apatite, Top 10 Best New Chefs from Food and Wine Magazine. There’s more but I can't think of them. Oh, Inductee to the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame, IACP Award for my Craftsy Class.
Q: Which accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
A: Probably the Beard Awards because those come from your peers.
Q: What was the best advice you ever received in your career?
A: "Don't go into the restaurant business" which I didn't listen to.
Q: What advice would you give to a home enthusiast?
A: Take cooking classes that interest you. They're fun and give you new skills and ideas. Oh, and always wear comfortable shoes!
Pavlova with Berries and Crystallized Rose Petals