As part of JWU’s Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC) series, Elizabeth Falkner and her wine and operations director John W. Mark each gave guest lectures to approximately 80 culinary arts students, and prepared hors d’oeuvres and a four-course meal for 60 guests alongside 30 student volunteers. Each course was served with a wine identified by Mark, who the university recognized as Distinguished Visiting Sommelier.
Falkner and Mark recommended students travel abroad to open their minds to the many flavors the world has to offer. An example of her unique approach to blending culinary and baking and pastry flavors is Falkner’s recipe for celery sorbet with dates, parmesan cream and celery fennel salad, a dish she demonstrated for students and prepared at the public dinner.
"I think of myself like a soundboard mixer," Falkner told students in one of her demonstrations. "I play with the volume on certain ingredients until I find the right combination."
Falkner began her professional cooking career in 1990 as the chef of Café Claude, she worked in the kitchens of Masa’s, Elka/Miyako Hotel and Rubicon. Recognizing the need for a contemporary, quality pastry shop in the Bay Area, Falkner opened Citizen Cake in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley in October 1997.
In 2004, Falkner opened a second Citizen Cupcake at the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco’s Union Square. In 2007, Citizen Cake was awarded a recommendation from Michelin and received 7x7 Magazine’s award for Best Dessert. She has appeared on national television as a guest judge for Bravo’s Top Chef and a challenger in the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. She is the creator of Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts, a cookbook published last October.
Mark has worked with Falkner since Citizen Cake's inception. He has participated in the Schramsberg Sparkling Wine Symposium and has traveled extensively through the Loire and Rhône Valleys in order to better his knowledge of French regional wines. In helping customers decide what wines to choose, Mark encourages people to expand their experience.
"My approach is to find out what people usually drink and then either take them in completely the opposite direction to expose them to something new, or to see how close I can come to their usual habits with what's on my list."