Spiky platinum blond hair distinguishes Elizabeth Falkner in a crowd, but it’s creativity and drive that define her as a chef. Case in point: the award-winning, industry-leading pastry chef began making a name for herself and her clever, pastry artistry well before she opened her first restaurant, Citizen Cake, in San Francisco.
A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute with filmmaking dreams, Falkner eventually found her calling in the world of pastry. But that didn’t stop her from plying her creativity to its fullest and allowing all influences—including film—to shape her perspective. And as her career advanced, so did her vision, which earned her continuous work and recognition in the industry. From the pastry department at Masa’s under Julian Serrano, to head pastry chef at Elka, Falkner went on to open Rubicon with Traci Des Jardins before she finally set off on her own.
Recognizing the need for a contemporary pastry shop in the Bay Area, Falkner opened Citizen Cake in 1997 (a nod to Orson Welles and a wink to her own cinemaphile inclinations). Ten years later, she published Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake. Falkner continued exploring her savory side with the opening of her second restaurant, Orson, in 2008, conceptually blurring the lines between sweet and savory and exploring familiar and iconic dishes with characteristic flair.
And even as fame and recognition follow her—from the Michelin Guide to Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, who awarded Falkner their Golden Bowl for Pastry in 2003, to appearances as both contestant and judge on “Iron Chef America”—Falkner has maintained active involvement in issues of social justice, childhood nutrition, and human rights in the San Francisco community. In 2012, however, she pulled up stakes for New York City, to open Italian restaurant Krescendo in Brooklyn.