Learn about her new health-focused baking venture, Plante Pâtissière
CM: How did you get started in food?
CG: I grew up in Chattanooga, and my grandmother was an incredible Southern cook. In college, I audited a stocks, soups, and sauces class at Johnson & Wales, and I knew that was it. I ended up at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and then went to New York and worked for Daniel Boulud. I did my stage at Daniel and his catering division Feast and Fêtes, and then I came back to Charleston where I worked for Bob Carter at Peninsula Grill. I also had my own catering company, Canapé. I was catering and assisting a food stylist in New York and ultimately decided to solely focus on styling because it helped me balance my career and motherhood.
CM: What inspired your plant-based journey?
CG: I’m 90-percent plant-based; I still enjoy having some fresh fish or oysters from time to time. In 2017, I became very serious about it because I got shingles in my eye, which made me want to learn more about how I could improve my health by eating a plant-based diet. I studied plant-based nutrition in an online program through Cornell University.
CM: What led you to create Plante Pâtissière?
CG: I stopped eating refined sugar, so the idea for creating the cakes is really based on me not being able to enjoy celebratory cakes with my son and wanting to figure out a way I could do that without the sugars. I started sharing them on social media. Friends asked me to make them, and it has spread by word-of-mouth. I want to continue doing it in a bespoke way, while also turning some favorites into consistent offerings.
CM: How has your work as a food stylist influenced your cakes?
CG: There’s the saying, “you eat with your eyes,” and I really believe that. I treat making them like creating little works of art. I love it because I know beautiful things make people happy and having them feel good about eating the cakes is everything.
CM: What are some of the challenges of baking vegan?
CG: With vegan baking, you are always taking something away. If you take a wet ingredient out you have to add something and get the ratios right. Using the almond flour that produces a rich, decadent cake is the way I like to counterbalance the subtle sweetness of a clean cake. It helps give people the decadence they crave from a cake without compromising the health-conscious ingredients.
CM: Tell us about your most popular cakes.
CG: I love fruit compote or jam in a cake. I like how it gives moisture. I want the cakes to be balanced, like with cooking: You’ve got the tart element, the richness of the cake, and the sweetness of the icing. I do an avocado mousse with cacao in the middle and a cacao buttercream icing, and people really love that.
CM: What does the future hold for Plante Pâtissière?
CG: My goal is to make cakes that bring joy and spark health. It’s very important for me to keep joy at the center. Creating these cakes has reminded me of why I love what I do. I have a lot of ideas and definitely see the potential for e-commerce, if that’s where the path leads.