Fun, Food, Pets and Travel

Kitchen Chat

Margaret McSweeney

Gale Gand: A Passion for Pastries

“I didn’t pick the restaurant industry.  It picked me.”  Chef Gale Gand on Kitchen Chat

 Award winning pastry chef Gale Gand has a passion for pastries.  She has won two James Beard awards, including one for Outstanding Pastry Chef and one for Outstanding Service for her former restaurant Tru.  Gale Gand is a seasoned TV celebrity who worked with Julia Child on her PBS show Baking with Julia and for eight years hosted her own Food Network show, Sweet Dreams.  Gand has influenced a whole generation of home chefs.  Recently, Gand joined Chef Jaime Laurita and Margaret McSweeney in the Viking and La Cornue Showroom at the Merchandise Mart for a Kitchen Chat.

Gale shares the emotional moment in her life when she realized that becoming a chef was her life’s passion. She says that her culinary training at La Varenne with Anne Willan  legitimized her as a professional chef.  One of the highlights of my own journey was having a kitchen chat with Anne Willan in her California kitchen.  Anne even mentions Gale Gand during our conversation.

Two professional lessons that she learned during her career include: 1) Just  say “Yes” and you’ll figure it out; and 2) Keep things simple.  As a young line cook, the chef asked her if she could make a croissant.  She said, “yes” even though she never had and stayed up all night perfecting her skill.  Gand and her co-owners of Tru Restaurant had worked in the finest restaurants with the most famous chefs in creating complex dishes.  The successful hallmark for Gale Gand became The Chanel Effect.  Coco Chanel always took something away to finalize the look or in this case the taste.  Too many ingredients or accessories can clutter the outcome.  It’s best to simplify so the flavors can reveal themselves.  Her new recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Stuffed Sweet Peppers is a perfect example.

Chef Gale Gand’s three tips for the home chef include:

  1. See what speaks to you at the grocery store.
  2. Don’t be afraid of leftovers; and
  3. Be comfortable in the kitchen.

Here is Chef Gale Gand’s as of yet unpublished recipe for:

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp Stuffed Sweet Peppers – makes about 24 pieces

6 Sweet peppers (Yellow, red and orange)

12 U-15 shrimp, shelled and cleaned

6 Bacon strips, cut in half

1 teaspoon rough chopped flat leaf parsley

Cut the stems off the sweet peppers and cut them in half length-wise and remove the seeds.  Place an uncooked shrimp in the cavity of the pepper boat.  Using 1/2 a strip of bacon, wrap the bacon around the shrimp.  Grill the stuffed peppers on both sides or bake them at 425 until the bacon and shrimp are cooked, about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.  You may also serve them over polenta, grits or pasta.