Pastry Chef Marisa Lown on Eating Well: "It's Not a One Size Fits All for Everyone"

Categories: Chef and Tell

Evie Carpenter
Marisa Lown
Pastry chef
The Radical Cupcake

These days you won't find pastry chef Marisa Lown in a restaurant kitchen, but that doesn't mean she's left the Valley pastry scene. Lown is still active both in her kitchen and on social media as The Radical Cupcake, which was once the name of her custom bakeshop that specialized in allergy-friendly and organic baked goods. She stopped that side of the business, but is now offering allergy-friendly consulting services to restaurants and chefs.

According to Lown, it's a growing priority for chefs and restaurateurs.

"From a restaurant perspective, food allergies are the bane of their existence," she says.

See also: What's a Restaurant's Responsibility Regarding Gluten-Free Items?

Up until early this year you could have tasted Lown's dessert creations at Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden where she wooed many with homey but creative dishes such as Strawberry Tart with Mascarpone Gelato and Milk and Cookies with Darjeeling and grapefruit juice shortbread and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

Lauren Saria
Chocolate chip cookies made with nut flours and homemade maple sugar.
But even for a pastry chef who's familiar with handling food allergies, Lown says it was difficult to meet people's needs in a restaurant setting. The challenges ranged from having a menu that wasn't written to be easily adjusted to accommodate food allergies, to the fact that the kitchen wasn't set up to make adjustments even where they could be made.

Throw in the fact that some people coming in had serious, possibility fatal, food allergies while others just prefer to cut out certain food and you get some really "muddy waters," she says.

But that doesn't mean it's a hopeless fight for chefs or those with food allergies, sensitivities, and diet restrictions - Lown included. The chef is allergic to dairy and keeps to a whole foods diet.

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