KCBS radio ‘Foodie Chap’ and CBS 5 television ‘Eye On The Bay’ host Liam Mayclem introduces us to the culinary stars behind the food and wine loved by so many in the Bay Area.

By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap

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Elizabeth Falkner is one of the most recognizable faces of the Bay Area culinary world. Elizabeth was a competitor on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters in 2009 and has also appeared as a judge on Top Chef Masters and Top Chef.

Nominated for the 2005 Pastry Chef of the Year Award by the James Beard Foundation, Elizabeth was a competitor on Iron Chef America in 2006, has appeared as a guest on “Tyler’s Ultimate” with Tyler Florence, Rachael Ray’s “$40 a Day”, “Martha Stewart Living” and more.

Elizabeth founded Citizen Cake, a restaurant that recently moved to Fillmore Street in San Francisco. It started as a retail bakery south of Market in 1997 and was an immediate hit. In May of 2000, she expanded it into an elegant restaurant, bar, and patisserie in Hayes Valley and helped change the face of the neighborhood.

“Cooking to me is about slaughtering and being slaughtered. The trick is knowing how to marinade.” – Elizabeth Falkner

Along with Citizen Cake, Elizabeth is also the chef/partner of the popular SOMA restaurant bar and lounge, Orson. Elizabeth’s expertise is now widely acknowledged to have bridged the gap between sweet and savory.

Before starting her own businesses, Falkner was an acclaimed pastry chef at Rubicon, working with chef Traci Des Jardins. Prior to Rubicon, she honed her craft in the kitchens of Masa’s and Elka and with pastry mentor, Mary Cech.

Elizabeth Falkner is celebrated for her brilliance in the kitchen, but also for mentoring upcoming chefs and for always giving back to the community.

I have long been a fan of this rock star chef, named the city’s “Best Pastry Chef” by San Francisco magazine and a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle.

We met up one Sunday morning recently at her sexy Orson restaurant in SOMA; on the menu, her famous Eggs Benedict.

5 Tasty Questions with Chef Elizabeth Falkner

1. What is your earliest food memory?

Climbing on top of the refrigerator and totally getting busted for eating all the Ovaltine out of the jar because I was allergic to chocolate.

2. What ingredient can you NOT live without?

Chocolate (laughter)

3. What is the soundtrack of your life?

The same soundtrack as “Run Lola Run” because I feel like that character constantly running down the stairs and running out of time.

4. What might people be surprised to learn about you and your interests outside the kitchen?

I have been practicing a lot of knife skills including Korean sword fighting lately (sword fight gesture)!

5. Your last supper. What would you eat and who would be at the table, dead or alive?

I would invite Martha Stewart, Madonna, Careme and Julia Child. I would definitely have to serve Caviar Bellini, lots of champagne. Beets, beef & horseradish because I love that combination. And lots of chocolate and everyone would be covered in chocolate by the end of it all.

LM: And you already have your house band right here (sound of Jazz Mafia in the background).

Very tasty answers. Thank you.

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EF: Thanks.

Elizabeth Falkner’s Eggs Benedict

(Pictured above)

Serves 2

1 tbsp butter

4 eggs

2 English muffins, cut in half

4 slices Canadian bacon or ham

1 cup spinach leaves

Squeeze of lemon juice

2 tbsp browned butter béarnaise

Toast the English muffins and spread a little butter on each half. Poach the eggs in simmering water with a drop of vinegar. Sauté the spinach in a little butter and season with salt and a squeeze of lemon. Warm the ham on a griddle, grill or a sauté pan. Lay a slice of Canadian bacon or ham on each muffin half. Set a little nest of spinach on top of the ham.

Set a poached egg on each half and top off with browned butter béarnaise.

Browned Butter Bearnaise

4 oz. white wine vinegar

1 shallot, cut in half

1 sprig tarragon

Pinch of sugar

4 yolks

1 oz. lemon juice

6 oz. brown butter, liquid but not hot

2 oz. canola oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp chopped tarragon

Reduce white wine vinegar with halved shallot and tarragon sprig. Strain and you should have about 2 oz. Whisk with the sugar and egg yolks and lemon juice. Whisk in the brown butter and canola oil. Whisk in salt, and a few drops of water. Mix in chopped tarragon. Alternatively, use the blender to make the béarnaise.

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