Chicago-based Gale Gand has been making an art of pastry for decades. The nationally celebrated guru of sweets founded iconic Chicago restaurants Trio (in 1993) and Tru (1999) with her former husband, Rick Tramonto, hosted the Food Network show Sweet Dreams for eight years, and has written eight cookbooks, including her most recent, Gale Gand’s Lunch! Other Gand titles (written with Tramonto) include American Brasserie, Butter Sugar Flour Eggs, and Tru: A Cookbook from the Legendary Chicago Restaurant,as well as her solo efforts, Just a Bite, Short and Sweet, Chocolate and Vanilla, and Gale Gand’s Brunch.

These days Gand is injecting some serious fun into the Chicago dining scene, along with The Hearty Boys, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, with their co-venture SpritzBurger. It’s a casual place where the burgers range from grass-fed beef to merguez sausage or poutine, and Gand’s desserts lean toward comfort foods such as marshmallow-stuffed devil dogs, Rice Krispies Treats, and a root beer float with a black-and-white cookie. Speaking of root beer, Gand makes her own artisan bubbly, Gale’s Root Beer, which is sold not only at SpritzBurger but nationwide.

In addition to starring in her own TV show, she’s competed on Iron Chef America and has been featured as a celebrity judge on Food Network Challenge, Last Cake Standing, Top Chef, and Top Chef Just Desserts. And back in 1996, Julia Child chose Gand to appear on her PBS show Baking with Julia.

Before she turned to working with pastry, Gand studied silver and gold smithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. But when her passion shifted to food, she took herself to Paris, where she attended La Varenne culinary school.

With a focus on food from the source, Gand has committed herself to leading cooking classes for both adults and children at organic Elawa Farm, in Lake Forest, Illinois, where she was also Chef in Residence in 2011 and 2012. She joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program as a chef-mentor, to foster nutrition education.