A Conversation with David Leite, Culinary Icon & Author

A Conversation with David Leite, Culinary Icon & Author

David Leite is a memoirist, author, and publisher of Leite’s Culinaria – the first website to win a James Beard Award. Between writing his memoir, blogging and radio appearances we found time for a short conversation about food, grandmothers, Proust, Freud and cooking naked. Gary Komarin: When did you first start taking food “seriously” and why? David Leite: When my maternal grandmother died in 1992, all the foods of my heritage–the foods I grew up with–were gone. My mother had her versions, but they were just that: versions. So I set out to recreate as many as I could as a way of staying connected to her. The unexpected result was I fell in love with Portuguese foods and culture—something I’d been running from since I was a kid. All my life I had wanted to be blond and blue-eyed and eat bologna on white bread. Not kale soup or octopus stew or sardines. That changed in 1992. And that was the impetus for my cookbook, The Portuguese Table. The book is dedicated to my grandmother. Gary Komarin: Where do you see your talent residing? Does it lean toward the analytical, the creative or some combination? David Leite: If I could answer that, I could start my own foundation and become rich as hell. I have no idea where my talent resides. It’s just there. It’s an impulse, sometimes clouded, other times fully formed. But I don’t set out to “create something.” If anything, I follow prompts, whispers, nudges from within. When I act on those prompts, I find myself bumping around in the dark a lot, like when we...