Gale Gand is a nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, root beer maker, and mom. She is the executive pastry chef and partner of Chicago-based Tru, with Rich Melman and culinary partner Rick Tramonto. She was recognized in 2001 as Outstanding Pastry Chef by The James Beard Foundation.
FE&S: Would you encourage your children to work in this business?
Gale Gand: Yes, if they love it and get as much satisfaction out of it as I do. I really found my calling when I got into food and restaurants. I hope they find theirs. But I'm always encouraging them to have a career in wine making so mommy can have a free place in Napa when she retires!
FE&S: If you were not working in foodservice, what would you be doing?
Gale Gand: Probably teaching, teaching art I think. I have a BFA and really get excited when I lead art classes at my kids' schools.
FE&S: Any interesting hobbies?
Gale Gand: Gardening (yawn), collecting old cook books, postcard collecting (mostly food images or recipes cards), collecting old pie tins and bakeware, old cooking brochures, chocolate labels, sewing, drawing, collecting old children's books, playing folk music with my kids and family and cooking (duh). I also like hunting for the best BLT, fried chicken and Caesar salad in the world, staging in pastry kitchens and bakeries in France, and working on goat farms to learn to make goat cheese.
FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite past times?
Gale Gand: Checking out bakeries, small ones, big ones, ethnic ones, and old fashion ones. Any bakery, really.
FE&S: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Gale Gand: Probably my grandmother's rolling pin.
FE&S: What was your first job in foodservice?
Gale Gand: I was a waitress, and just loved it. I loved nurturing the customers, teaching them about the menu items and where the ingredients came from; helping them choose what paired well and serving the food was like a dance to me. I went on to wash dishes, check coats, work the door, answer phones, be a line cook a pastry cook, a sous chef, and voila! That's how you make a restaurateur!
FE&S: If I were just starting out in the foodservice industry, what advice would you give me?
Gale Gand: When someone asks you if you can do something always say "yes," whether you know how to do it or not. You'll figure it out eventually. That's how to push you to grow. And ALWAYS wear comfortable shoes.