gale gand

Gale Gand on Palm Springs: ‘How Sweet it is’

Pastry chef will whip up dessert for James Beard Luncheon at Palm Desert Food + Wine

Michelle Roe Restaurants 0 Comments

gale gand

Pastry Chef Gale Gand has a sweet spot for the Greater Palm Springs area.

“It’s warm here. We Chicagoan’s seek warmth like moths to flame,” says Gand, a two time award winning James Beard and Chicago Chef Hall of Famer.

Gand is not only motivated to visit the desert for it’s sunny climes, but she enjoys visiting her brother and his wife, Gary and Joan Gand, musicians of local fan favorite, The Gand Band. And then there’s this bit of trivia — all three Gand’s are big supporters of the Palm Springs Art Museum. True to their collective sense of humor, the museum’s Architecture and Design Center restrooms have been named “The Joan, Gary & Gale Gand Rest Stop”…unofficially known as “The Gand Cans”.

• See related story on Chef Cat Cora: The Kitchen is Her Stage

The former Food Network host of the television series, Sweet Dreams, has a career and family that keeps her constantly in motion. In addition to her cookbook signings, television appearances, and a flurry of other innovative projects, she says, “I feel joy in the kitchen and I’m hoping to share that with people. To show how much joy you can get from the kitchen, its ingredients, physics, artistry, dance, and craft as well as the fulfillment you get from working with food.”

Gale Gand enjoys being a dessert maven.

She will make yet another appearance as a celebrity chef at the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival’s James Beard Luncheon on April 8. Gand will join fellow female all-stars Cat Cora, Valerie Gordon, and Suzanne Tracht to prepare a delectable menu pairing select wines provided by Wine Australia.

As the dessert maven, Gand has selected her current culinary obsession,her super moist “Almond-Ginger Tea Cake” featuring Pink Grapefruit Crème Legere, Lychee and Rose Pedals (the grapefruit garnish inspired by desert citrus). See the recipe below.

“For me, I’m sort of lucky,” Gand says. “I do dessert so I’m always going to be the last (chef to choose a dish), and I as a pastry chef I’m accustomed to letting savory chefs pick first so I can compliment that. I love the (Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival guests) to feel fed, nurtured, and restored. I would be super happy if all three notes landed on their plate.”

Quick facts about Gale:

• She makes her own root beer and has been a contestant on Iron Chef America.

• She has starred as a guest judge on Top Chef, Food Network Challenge, and Last Cake Standing to name a few.

• She has collaborated with Think Jerky founder Ricky Hirsch to create awesome beef jerkey recipes.


Makes 1 cake

1 ¼ cups sugar
8 ounces Almond Paste
10 ounces (2 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

In a food processor, combine the sugar and almond paste, pulsing until combined and looks like fine crumbs.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar-almond paste mixture and mix. Add the vanilla and mix. Two at a time, add the eggs, mixing after each addition.

In a separate bowl stir the flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger together. Working in batches, add the dry ingredients to the almond paste mixture, mixing after each addition.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is firm in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean (a few crumbs are OK), 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan. The torte can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored at room temperature.)

When ready to serve, remove the sides of the pan and dust the top with confectioner’s sugar.  

Sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine festival, April 8-10, The Gardens on El Paseo (under the tent on the West side upper level parking deck).

Visit for tickets to the James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon, and a complete list of culinary events and activities sponsored throughout the weekend.

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