Chef Elizabeth Falkner is a tour de force in the culinary world. Not only is she a talented chef, she’s also a fitness fanatic and active with many causes to support women, health awareness and more. We gained some insights about what inspires her, her favorite ways to use peanuts and peanut butter in the kitchen and what she has planned for future.
You consider yourself a “culinary instigator.” What does that mean?
I am always looking ahead and get tired of everyone making food with trending ingredients or techniques and push myself to approach my food making and anything else I do with flavors of intention, presence and originality.
What do you enjoy most about competing in and judging culinary competitions?
I love sports and to me, the cooking competitions are a combination of how good of a cook someone is combined with sport.
What are your earliest memories of peanuts or peanut butter?
When I was younger, I was allergic to chocolate and my mom would make me peanut butter cupcakes, which I loved. I have constantly enjoyed unsweetened peanut butter on sourdough bread. It’s one of my favorite things to eat since I was a little kid.
What are some of your favorite ways to use peanuts in cooking and baking?
I put peanut butter in smoothies with dates; I poach them in fish sauce caramel for Vietnamese fish tacos; I use them in carrot top pesto; I use them in all kinds of desserts. One of my all time favorite ice cream sundaes is the Tin Roof, which is chocolate sauce on vanilla ice cream with salted red skin peanuts. My favorite snacking peanut is the crisp Virginia peanut.
You’re active with many causes, from breast cancer awareness to supporting women chefs. What motivates you to be an advocate for these issues?
Cooking brings people together and when we cook and dine together we can remember we are one giant family and can help each other do amazing things.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am editing my manuscript/memoir. I am collaborating on a project that involves food/art/theater that we hope to launch in New York and other cities around the world.
I cook at all kinds of Food and Wine festivals, charity events, do recipe development constantly and am training for the NY Marathon (Nov. 6)