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Food & Drink

The Haul: The city’s most famous pastry chef has been keeping a secret

A woman stands smiling in a vibrant grocery store, holding a shopping basket, surrounded by fresh produce and colorful wall art.
Liz Prueitt, co-founder of Tartine, has been shopping at Rainbow Grocery for over 20 years. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

This is The Haul, a new series from The Standard that follows the city’s top chefs and food experts as they forage for their own groceries.

Liz Prueitt, the co-founder of Tartine and arguably one of the world’s most celebrated pastry chefs, is finally coming out. She has a serious gluten intolerance—in fact, one that she's grappled with for over 30 years.

In 1987—before she’d spent a year working at some of the best patisseries in France, before Tartine was even a twinkle in her eye—Prueitt was told to lay off the all-purpose flour by a chiropractor in San Francisco. “Could a more California statement be made?” she jokes on her new gluten-free baking Substack, “Have Your Cake,” which launched last month.

Even though wheat had the potential to land her in the emergency room, Prueitt persevered, producing Tartine's highly glutenlicious pastries. Her love of baking compensated for her inability to eat more than a bite or two of her own creations. But as of the past year, Prueitt has finally ousted gluten entirely from her personal life and is releasing the gluten-free recipes she’s long been tinkering with.

While the GF community may celebrate its latest cult member, the wider community of Tartine fanatics may have some trepidations. Gluten-free desserts have a leaden stigma attached. Are Prueitt's gluten-free recipes going to result in edible hockey pucks? Never fear. She is a scientist as much as a baker, and she’s taken GF desserts to a new level of lightness and sophistication.

You won’t be surprised to know that to stock her pantry, Prueitt heads to the iconic co-op Rainbow Grocery (1745 Folsom St.), known since the ’70s as a temple of counterculture food trends. Today, however, the store is considered hippie no longer—the culinary world finally caught up with it. And Prueitt, who’s been shopping there for over 20 years, knows it like the back of her hand.

Liz Prueitt breaks down her grocery list

Organic psyllium husk powder ($26.95/pound)
“Yes, it’s essentially Metamucil—pure fiber. But for gluten-free baking, when a dough rises, psyllium traps the air and helps create structure like gluten. People use it for things like pizza dough when they want stretch.”

A hand is scooping psyllium husk from a wooden bin labeled "PSYLLIUM HUSK Cáscara de Psyllium."
Psyllium husk helps create stretch in gluten-free recipes for pizza crust and more. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Organic bulk corn flour ($1.79/pound)
“Unlike polenta or cornmeal, corn flour is very finely milled, which makes it good for cake. I make a blueberry corn muffin that I top with honey and butter.”

Bay Area Bee Company honey ($12.99/16 ounces)
This company harvests from local hives, including the Mission and Potrero Hill. I like the Marin Blend the best. I use it for sweetener for granola or ice cream, which is beautiful with honey as the sole sweetener.”

A person's hand is selecting a jar labeled "Bay Area Bee Co." from a shelf of various honeys at a store.
The Bay Area Bee Company harvests honey from hives in San Francisco neighborhoods. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Bulk organic avocado oil ($7.49/pound)
“Refined avocado oil has a high smoke point and neutral flavor. I use it to cook sweet ricotta fritters. Unrefined, I’d use as a finishing oil for things like salad.”

A hand dispenses golden avocado oil into a clear bowl from a steel tap.
Avocado oil has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, which makes it perfect for frying things like ricotta fritters. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Milk powders ($9.99/12 ounces)
“I add milk powders (like soy, coconut or oat) to my gluten-free flour blend to increase the protein, which brings it closer to wheat flour and assists with browning to mimic wheat. They’re kind of hard to find. Rainbow is definitely in the minority of stores that carry it.”

Organic rhubarb ($2.41/stalk)
“My mom is a master gardener, and every year, she grew beautiful crops of rhubarb at her home in New York. I love to poach rhubarb. You just bring a simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water) to a boil, let the sugar dissolve, remove from the heat, add orange zest, cinnamon stick, lemon peel or whatever you like and pour it over your sliced rhubarb. Pair it with something like these buckwheat crepes.”

A woman with glasses reaches for rhubarb in a grocery store produce section, holding a black shopping basket.
Liz Prueitt reaches for the rhubarb. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Goji berries ($14.29/8 ounces)
“Yes, I really do put goji berries in my granola. I also love acai powder and cocoa nibs, dates and mulberries. In order to get the granola clumps without all the sugar, I add an egg white. That’s my secret.” 

To get more tips, watch our video of Tartine's Liz Prueitt scouring the aisles of Rainbow Grocery. This Monday at 6 p.m., catch up with Prueitt on “Have Your Cake,’’ her new Substack, where she’ll be hosting a live Q&A on chocolate.

Sara Deseran can be reached at