Thomas Keller’s Right Hand Woman: Lena Kwak
Cup4Cup president and co-founder Lena Kwak began her culinary career as a private chef and caterer. To explore a growing interest in nutritional science, she pursued an internship with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and eventually became the research and development chef.
While at the French Laundry, chef Kwak noticed that there were many guests with dietary restrictions coming to the restaurant, specifically with allergies to gluten products. Her desire to keep all of her guests happy and able to eat premium products turned into the idea for Cup4Cup, a brand of gluten-free products with Thomas Keller’s stamp of approval.
With quality as their number-one priority, they devised a premium multipurpose flour that is just as tasty as regular flour, can be light and flaky in the same way, and isn’t at all grainy. It’s so good, in fact, that chef Keller uses it regularly for several items on his menus at all of his restaurants. (Bet you didn’t know that the fried chicken at Ad Hoc had a gluten-free coating!) And, other high-end restaurants have picked it up as well, such as Del Posto in New York City and Sons & Daughters in San Francisco.
Under the mentorship of chef Keller, chef Kwak refined the proprietary blend of flour and set about making it available to a larger audience. Today, Cup4Cup is sold by several retailers such as Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods, and it has four gluten-free products: a multipurpose flour, a pancake and waffle mix, a pizza crust mix, and most recently a gluten and dairy-free brownie mix. And the best part about Cup4Cup is it is easily swapped into recipes for a cup of regular flour, unlike other gluten-free flour products that call for amounts to be recalculated.
Whether you have a gluten allergy or not, Cup4Cup’s end result is something fantastic. To see a recipe for chef Kwak’s Empanada Pies, click here. They’re perfect for Thanksgiving.