The Sugar Cube is a tiny food cart in Portland, Oregon that serves up some of the finest desserts the city has to offer. Owner Kir Jensen is like a one-woman band. It’s against all odds that she turns out restaurant-worthy desserts on gorgeous vintage plateware from an adorable Lilliputian food cart.

Originally from Chicago, Jensen is a first generation American born from two European parents, so her diet growing up was far from the Wonderbread sandwich variety. She first studied pastry at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. During her time there she scored a stage at the prestigious Trio in Evanston. Shortly after, a pastry cook position opened up and her career took off. She worked under the influential young pastry chef Della Gossett (who eventually became the pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s and mentored many a fledgling pastry cook).

Gossett’s sensibility and approach helped shape Jensen’s pastry. Strong technique and inventive flavor combinations meant that Gossett’s desserts were creative and thoughtful, but still well-balanced. Jensen took that lesson to heart, creating a simpler version of an approach that focused on highlighting seasonal ingredients. After moving to Portland, Jensen worked at Genoa, Clarklewis, and Florio Bakery. In 2008 she struck out on her own, purchasing an 8 x 14-foot food cart. Since opening The Sugar Cube, Jensen has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, and Travel & Leisure. She has a cookbook in the works that is set to be released in spring 2012 by Chronicle Books. In 2011 she won the StarChefs.com Portland Rising Star Pastry Chef award.