My childhood years and my education, leading to a graduate degree in mental health nursing, didn’t foreshadow what I have become. Food became an important part of my life following a trip to France shortly after I was married. On that trip I discovered that sauce wasn’t the same as gravy, asparagus didn’t come in jars, people ate the flowers of thistles, frozen fish wasn’t the norm, and shellfish was actually eaten raw.

My husband, Sidney, and I came home and started to cook French food, working our way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Eventually I started teaching cooking to small groups in my kitchen, staying just a step ahead of the students. Then my thoughts turned to French pastry. Baking was different from cooking—more exacting, a different type of chemistry. I found out about a school near Paris run by the famous pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre where I could learn more, so I packed my bags and worked hard unraveling the intricacies of French pastry. When I returned, it wasn’t long before I quit my day job to focus on a pastry business.

I owned Fran Gage Pâtisserie Française for ten years. It closed in 1995, after a fire in the building shut it down. When the building was repaired, I realized that I didn’t want to start my business again. Instead, I turned to writing about food. My food focus took another turn when I signed up for an Olive Oil Sensory Evaluation course given by the University of California Extension Service as part of my research for my first book, Bread and Chocolate. In two days I tasted more olive oil than I had in months. Five years later I took and passed the sensory qualification test to become a member of the taste panel for the California Olive Oil Council. I’m also on the taste panels for the University of California Extension and the UC Davis Olive Oil Center, and I judge olive oil at competitions.

My newly acquired appreciation for extra-virgin olive oil has changed my approach to cooking. Now I have at least three bottles of good olive oil in my kitchen that I rely on to add flavor to food. I even use olive oil when I bake.


HOME            ABOUT            BOOKS            EVENTS            MEDIA            RECIPES            STORIES            CONTACT

© 2011 Fran Gage. All Rights Reserved      |      Site Design: The Engine Room      |      Photographs: Maren Caruso