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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious


A Peek Into My Day Planner - by GF Pastry Chef, Kyra Bussanich

 Kyra Bussanich (right) as she prepared to go on Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Pictured with Jackie, her lovely assistant on the show, and a manager at Kyra's Bake Shop..

Kyra is one of the most well-known gluten-free bakers in the U.S. right now, and there are two reasons for that: 1) she is an amazing pastry chef  2) she works really, really hard. She's given us a behind the scenes look into her experience as a competitor and 2-time winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, now she is giving us an inside look into her day to day life as a new cookbook author. 

BY KYRA BUSSANICH, Author of "Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for the Gluten-Free Lifestyle"

5:48am My alarm goes off with its insistent buzzing and it takes me time to shake off the grogginess enough to realize that I have to wake up. I hit the off switch and roll out of bed. My dogs jump up with me and run to the patio door to be let outside.

6:15am I'm showered and dressed, the dogs have been fed, and I pour myself a giant cup of coffee (merely my first for the day). I add one packet of stevia and a hefty dollop of heavy whipping cream to it, because that's how I roll. Cream, like bacon, makes everything better! I head into the bathroom to layer on makeup—I'm soon heading to do a segment on the local ABC affiliate so I need to apply it just a little heavier than usual to accommodate the studio lights.

7:04am I back into a parking space in front of the bake shop and open the rear doors. I will be making Creamsicle Cupcakes from my book (page 88) on air and need to have all my ingredients, as well as cupcakes in various stages of "doneness" for the camera. I load up a milk crate with bowls, spatulas, a whisk, mascarpone, eggs, orange juice and a box of our dry cake mix. I only have 7 minutes in the segment, so I am taking every shortcut I can. In addition to the cupcake ingredients, I have breakfast for the cast and crew (gooey cinnamon rolls, scones, and Everything bagels).

7:45am Traffic was extremely heavy getting across town but I'm a little early so I swing by the local coffee shop that is 2 blocks from the studio and grab another cup of coffee.

Here's the segment!

9:18am The sound technician removes my mike, tells me how much fun my segment was, and thanks me for bringing in the extra treats. She informs me that the production booth is going crazy for the cinnamon rolls and that no one can believe they're gluten-free!    

10:30am Back to the shop, I drop off the dirty dishes from the news segment and pick up the ingredients for my next event, a book signing and baking demonstration at Williams Sonoma. The girls are making biscotti (also from the cookbook) and it smells good. I snag the end pieces as they’re slicing the cookies. At times like this, I am SO thankful for the awesome team I have at the bake shop helping me prepare for all the events!

11:12am I park in the lot beneath the Williams Sonoma and start carting my supplies upstairs to the demo floor. In addition to the ingredients and equipment I will need for the mini S'Mores tartlets, I have a pack of brand new gold and silver sharpies for book signing.

2:20pm The past several hours have been a blur with people watching me bake, tasting my samples, buying books and BUY THE COOKBOOK!asking me questions on a deeper level about gluten-free baking. I love my job! Driving back to the shop, I return my travel planner friend's call. She's left me a message about an upcoming gluten-free cruise I'm doing, and I have time to chat and answer her questions while I head back to Lake Oswego.

3:00pm Lunch time! I keep a stash of healthy treats in the staff fridge at the bake shop and pull out some slices of pepper turkey, a few string cheeses, a packet of Justin's Nutbutter (maple almond), and an avocado, which I dice and drizzle with 25 year aged balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. This, along with a big bottle of fizzy water, will (mostly) tide me over for the next few hours.

3:29pm The phone rings with my afternoon interview for Delight Gluten-Free magazine. Kristin and I have a lovely discussion about my experiences learning to bake gluten-free. She asks me, if I could have anyone over to dinner, who would I have and what would I make. I think about this for a minute and ask if I can invite more than one person. "Sure!" Kristin responds. The invitation part is easy: Oprah, Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Rachael Ray, Giada de Laurentiis, and my mentor Laura Byrne Russell. The hard part is figuring out what I would make for these heavy hitting idols of mine. I settle on garlic roasted chicken, rosemary whipped parsnips, lemony kale salad with parmesan and slivered almonds, and for dessert: Chocolate Mousse Meringue Pie and Lilikoi (passionfruit) Chiffon Pie. An occasion like this calls for (at least) 2 desserts!

4:45pm I've spent the last hour answering emails and in discussion with Jackie and Jen, managers at my shop making plans for next week's events, and it's time to head to my next class: a baking class for the Portland Culinary Alliance, I'll be demo-ing in a space I'm not accustomed to, so I don't know how the ovens will run, or how clean the kitchen will be.

5:39pm Lauren, the class coordinator, offers me something to eat before I begin the class, since it will be 4 hours before I can really eat dinner. I eat a millet burger, some kalamata olives and more fizzy water, and then tie my hair up and wash my hands in preparation for the class. My contacts are starting to bother me, so I have switched to glasses for this class. I look like I''m pretending to be a grownup.

8:52pm The class wraps up and there is a line of people waiting to have a few words with me and ask me to personalize their copy of my book. One woman tells me she has been afraid to try baking since she went gluten-free, but the tips and tricks I have shared during the class have inspired her to buy some gluten-free flours and start playing in the kitchen. I am humbled and honored.

9:16pm I pull into my driveway. My puppies are waiting at the door for me, wagging their tails so hard, their little bodies are curving into jelly beans. My husband is lounging on the couch and I grab an apple and plop down next to him to watch an episode of one of our shows (currently, it's House of Cards).

10:02pm The show is over, so we take the dogs out, then brush our teeth, I wash my face, and crawl into bed and get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Lights out. Sweet dreams.

You can find her cookbook on!


About Kyra

Kyra Bussanich is the owner of Crave Bake Shop (now Kyra's Bake Shop), and the first gluten-free winner of the Food Network's Famed, "Cupcakes Wars".  Kyra graduated with honors from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, which gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about classical French baking techniques which she was able to apply toward baking gluten-free.  Kyra was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder when she was 20 years old. Part of staying healthy meant switching to a gluten-free diet, avoiding all wheat and overly processed foods. Whenever possible, she uses local ingredients, and serves customers with multiple allergies, as well.


More Articles By & About Kyra


Behind the Scenes of Cupcake Wars w/Kyra by Elisabeth Veltman

Kyra's Baking Class Replacing Common Ingredients by Kyra Bussanich

Sweet Cravings: Adventures in Writing My First Cookbook by Kyra Bussanic

Truffle Fudge Brownie Recipe from Kyra Bussanich

Truffle Fudge Brownie Recipe (Paleo Version) from Kyra Bussanich

My Chat with Crave & the First Gluten-Free Winner fo Cupcake Wars by Elisabeth Veltman




Treats and a Toast: Celebrating the release of local Pastry Chef Krya Bussanich's new Cookbook

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013!: If you are near Portland, OR (Lake Oswego), stop by for the book release party for Tender Foodie Guest Blogger, Kyra Bussanich! Congratulations, Kyra on this next super sweet milestone in your career, and in our baking nirvana!

The Oilerie Lake Oswego will be hosting a book signing for local Lake Oswego pastry chef Kyra Bussanich in honor of her newly released cookbook, Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle on September 17th, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The Oilerie Lake Oswego is located downtown Lake Oswego, 438 1st Street, between A& B Avenue, 503-675-6457.

Join Kyra for a toast and some treats showcasing some of the recipes in her new cookbook.  Kyra will also be signing copies of Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.

Following a severe battle for her health, and a conversion to eating gluten-free, Kyra Bussanich graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu and opened her award-winning bakery “Kyra’s Bake Shop” (formerly called Crave Bake Shop) in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Her specialty is "gluten-free, deliciously"- and she quickly became a sensation and picked up national media attention as a “must see when you visit Portland.”

Kyra is a two-time winner of The Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars.” She won even though her recipes are exclusively gluten-free (beating “regular” bakers), with glowing reviews from judges believing it impossible to get such flavor with this “handicap.”

While she started out making award-winning pastries, she's branched beyond desserts to other goods in order to help those similarly with celiac or other autoimmune diseases enjoy delicious items while still adhering to eating gluten-free. With gluten-free quickly becoming a lasting and commonly accepted lifestyle, everyone is searching for “the winning secret formula.” Kyra is delivering it.




Watch this Cute Video




Behind the Scenes of Cupcake Wars w/Kyra by Elisabeth Veltman

Kyra's Baking Class Replacing Common Ingredients by Kyra Bussanich

Sweet Cravings: Adventures in Writing My First Cookbook by Kyra Bussanic

Truffle Fudge Brownie Recipe from Kyra Bussanich

Truffle Fudge Brownie Recipe (Paleo Version) from Kyra Bussanich

My Chat with Crave & the First Gluten-Free Winner fo Cupcake Wars by Elisabeth Veltman



Slow drip coffee from Rowsters New American Coffee. Photo by Jeff Hage of Green Frog PhotoBY ELISABETH VELTMAN

Photographs Courtesy of Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo

You walk in.  People are reading, computing, talking, laughing.  You smell that indescribable aroma.  It makes you happy, more alert.  It stimulates your appetite and blood starts rushing to your brain.  

You want that first sip so badly that you open your mouth before your hand hits the cup – but wait. Is it gluten-free?  

“Is this a serious question?” you ask. It is.  For those allergic to wheat, have celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity, it’s like discovering that you don’t have a condom when the pants are already off.

Some coffee contains gluten.

Coffee processing is coming under a new type of scrutiny, because about 25 million are reacting to a protein in gluten called “gliadin”.  Some react right away, some 72 hours later.  Gluten is found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale.  This is particularly important for the growing number of people with celiac disease where even a miniscule particle of gluten can destroy the nutrient absorbing villi in the small intestine.  

Justin, of Rowsters New American Coffee, gave me an education on the perfect cup - 204 degree water and a slow pour. Photo by Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo


The gluten hits the beans in two ways.  A powder, used by large companies to keep the beans from sticking to conveyor belts during processing, contains gluten. Like flouring your rolling pin while making a piecrust, the powder keeps the oily beans from sticking to the machines. The gluten, however, sticks to the beans.  Some companies “de-flour” their machines, but it is unclear who is making these changes and how well they do it.

The second means of gluten penetration is through the flavored syrups on the shelf.  Some syrups claim gluten-free status, like Monin, but the safest way is abstinence, or to opt for gluten-free extracts like vanilla or almond, or use real maple syrup!

A coffee roaster at Rowster. So shiny. Me likey. Photo by Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo


The beans come to Rowsters green and are roasted on site. Photo by Jeff Hage of Green Frog Photo.
To find the safest beans, I called Equal Exchange and Higher Grounds, made a visit to my local haunts Rowsters, Marie Catrib's and Global Infusion, and corresponded with MadCap.  They all said the same thing:  Small roasters and farmers do not use this powder because they have no need for it on their smaller machines.  Another concern is cross-contamination of gluten at the farm.  Small coffee farmers do grow other crops, but the climate for grains like wheat is vastly different than the high altitudes and temperatures needed to grow good beans.  This means that the beans on small, artisan farms will very likely NOT be stored, shipped or packaged in facilities that also package gluten.  

The closer the shop works with the farmers the more accurate the information, so talk to your shop (and be nice).  Plus, these small coffee growers are craftsmen, as are the roasters and shops that work with them.  If you buy from a Fair-Trade partner, you support the farmers who need the income, and your cup of Joe will be a cup of heaven.  
No condom required.

My nearly finished cup of love. Thanks Rowsters! Photo by Jeff Hage of Green Frog Photo.

Special thanks to Maggie & Jennifer at Higher Grounds for some great info;  Justin and Adam at Rowsters New American Coffee for some great coffee and conversation, and Jeff Hage for these great shots.


About Elisabeth


Writer, owner of Blue Pearl Strategies, and lover of all culinary delights, Elisabeth started The Tender Palate & Tender Foodie, for people with food allergies, sensitivities and intolerance. She believes that everyone should live deliciously and have a healthy seat at the table.


Symptoms of Celiac Disease & Some Guides to Help

This is a great infographic of some of the major symptoms of celiac disease. The graphic is put together by The Gluten Dude, who has some interesting stuff on his site. If these symptoms ring true for you, look below the graphic for a few more articles that might help you figure this out with your doctor.

Celiac Disease Symptoms


Celiac Disease Symptoms – Courtesy of Gluten Dude



Guides to Why & What to Do - Discuss with You Doctor

Interview with Alessio Fasano Part I: Should Anyone Eat Gluten?

Interview with Alessio Fasano Part II: How to Get Tested for Celiac Disease

Interview with Alessio Fasano Part III: Gluten Sensitivity

What is a Food Allergy, Anyway?

Follow Your Gut (Part 1): What's Eating My Daughter's Stomach?

Follow Your Gut (Part 2): Going Through a Celiac Biopsy

There is also something called "silent celiac" which can happen in some people who are asymptomatic but who have celiac disease. I hope this helps any of you who are trying to get to the bottom of some crazy stuff!


Ice. The Diamonds of Cuisine: Interview with Randy Finch, Ice Guru

Randy Finch in a photograph by Steph Harding from 2012


Interview by Elisabeth Veltman


Chef, artist, TV personality, and chainsaw genius, Randy Finch, along with his partner Derek Maxfield, have come to embody the words, “ice” and “art.” Their team has been featured on the Discovery Channel; are in “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not”, and were featured in a show called “Ice Brigade” on The Food Network. I had the privilege to catch Randy for a chat, and visit his very “cool” studio with Steph Harding, photographer, for a fun departure from our regularly scheduled subject matter (food allergies).  

TENDERFOODIE:  Ice sculpture has rather utilitarian roots didn’t it?  But, within a century it became quite an elaborate art form.  When did the art of ice sculpture really begin?

RANDY:  The beginning is debatable. The first documented ice sculpture, was the famous ice palace of 1740, commissioned As seen in Women's Lifestyle Magazine, June 2013by Empress Anna Ivanovna of Russia. She had commissioned this palace and staged a mock wedding there.

TENDERFOODIE:  I read about that! She forced some guy she was angry with to marry one of her servants, spend the entire night in the palace, and expected them to sleep on a bed made of pure ice.

RANDY: Yes! I actually have an original article about this from 1741. It was published in a gentleman’s magazine at the time. The palace was quite elaborate, with trees, birds, and an elephant all made of ice.  

TENDERFOODIE:  Wow.  Tell us more about how ice sculpture has evolved since then.

RANDY:  Mostly, ice was used to keep food cool on the table, and it evolved into art. This was a technique used in the creation of Peach Melba. In fact, they originally used ice swans to display that dessert.

TENDERFOODIE:  Oh, Peach Melba! Created for the legendary opera singer, Nelly Melba, correct?

RANDY:  That is correct.  In the early 1900’s, ice chandeliers, fountains and elaborate sculptures became more common. The quality sagged off in the U.S. for a while, and now it is coming full circle, and more elaborate sculptures are once again becoming common.

TENDERFOODIE:  Why the resurgence?  

RANDY:  People are looking for unique and different things today. Until recent years, it wasn’t just elaborate sculptures that took time; simple products did as well. For instance we used to hand produce little sorbet dishes made of ice, and each would cost at least $35. New technology allows us to make them more quickly and at much less cost. We were the first to use computerized equipment in the U.S. We started using it in Grand Rapids, MI, three months ahead of Las Vegas!

TENDERFOODIE:  Seriously?  How did this happen?

RANDY:  We’ve been in the business for a long time and have many personal relationships in the ice business. We knew the guy who was making the equipment in Canada, and had first dibs.

TENDERFOODIE:  What other products come from this equipment?

RANDY: We can make large bins of ice that hold ice cream for parties, dishes, drink dispensers, and parts for drink luges where the party guest can interact with the sculpture. That is our niche: Interactive ice sculpture that is both functional and beautiful.

TENDERFOODIE:  I saw a video of the ice desk that you did, and oh that grand piano that actually plays, and the pool table! What other interactive sculptures do you do?

RANDY:  The desk was for a Food Network executive. That was really fun. One of the most outrageous projects was a 30-foot long mousetrap game that included a double, fully functional Ferris wheel, and a cannon that lights up and fires. It is based upon the concept of Rube Goldberg, an artist that did drawings of very elaborate ways of doing the simplest things. We did the Mousetrap game for a show called “Recreation Nation” on the Discovery Channel.

TENDERFOODIE: I saw your mousetrap sculpture on YouTube. Truly amazing. Is this your favorite project?


RANDY:  The double Ferris wheel is nearest and dearest to my heart. It actually made it into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  But other than that, the next project is always my favorite, whatever the next project might be. We recently did a 32-foot ice dessert bar and a live performance. We created an ice motorcycle with live pyrotechnics coming from the tail pipe right on stage. We are doing a lot more live performance shows as well. We love doing them.

TENDERFOODIE:  You are a chef, and artist, and you must be an engineer of sorts to do what you do. How did you go from chef to an ice sculptor wielding a chain saw?

RANDY: Well, I also studied architecture, and we are known for our power tools. In fact we often choose the chainsaw or drill, even if a chisel is easier! But I did start out as a chef. I went to culinary school and worked as a private chef for Jay Van Andel for quite some time. I was the chef at Cygnus and for Peter Island Resort. My culinary training helps make for great relationships with chefs. I know how to design for any food without being taught. If the chef wants a caviar station, then I know we also need to accommodate blini, and how to design any sculpture so that it works for whatever food creation the chef can dream up.

TENDERFOODIE: What does an ice sculptor do in the summer?

RANDY: One of the biggest things we do in summer is sell our scrap ice, because it melts so much more slowly than regular cubed ice. Fishermen and tailgaters drop off their coolers on Monday, and pick them up on Friday for the weekend.  As we do weddings and graduation sculptures, we throw the extra into their coolers. We are also doing sculpture for Kid Rock backstage.

TENDERFOODIE:  Tell me, ice & cold are rather counter-intuitive symbols of romance. Why do you think it has come to be so closely connected with celebrations and love?

RANDY:  There is a simple elegance to ice. It is artistic. Art and romance have always gone together.  Ice sculpture is created for one, single event. It’s just for you. Ice swans, for instance, are typical sculptures for weddings because they mate for life.  Ice is sensuous. It has clarity and a slickness. Like a diamond, the light gives the sculpture a life of its own.  Like life itself, the ice sculpture transforms the entire time it exists. That’s why people love it and that’s why I love working with it.

 See more about Randy and his team...


About Elisabeth

Owner of Blue Pearl Strategies, Elisabeth is also The Tender Foodie. She started this blog and The Tender Palate, to help those food allergies and sensitivities.

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