Happy Birthday to Us

Happy Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria! Cue a shower of swirling confetti, the din of dozens of noisemakers, the magnificent “pop” of Champagne uncorking, and a parade of endless multi-tiered devil’s food cakes slathered in ganache about to be sliced into properly indulgent portions. (Oh, c’mon, where’s your imagination?)

Yup. It’s our twelfth birthday. And we’re inviting you to celebrate with us this very second in a virtual surprise party for our blog. Party hat optional. Mind you, the celebration isn’t just an excuse to tuck into that cake, nor is it just for the site-turned-blog that came to be nearly a baker’s dozen years ago today. It’s a chance to toast the characters behind the blog. And we don’t mean just us. There’s the namesake David Leite who conceived of the notion of a culinaria of hot food and dry wit. (Note: It’s the blog’s birthday, not David’s. He’s a Cancer–hint, hint.) There’s the dozens and dozens of writers and cookbook authors and photographers and illustrators whose work graces our pages. And there’s you, dear reader, without whom none of this would be worthwhile. So happy birthday to us all.

Some longtime friends of LC have kindly sent birthday wishes, which you’ll find below. We’re asking all guests to take a moment to do the same, mentioning a favorite recipe, a piece of writing, musing, or anything else on the blog that at some point caught your fancy or caused you to unexpectedly laugh out loud and snort your morning coffee or evening wine out your nose. Don’t worry about making it pretty, as we’re not the scrapbooking sort. It’s really just a way for you to remind one another of something you may have overlooked, something that may have been missing. Because it’s all about you. This day, this party, this blog.—Renee Schettler Rossi


Several years ago, I was searching for some ingredient on the Internet and came across a website called Leite’s Culinaria. I clicked on it and was instantly mesmerized. I distinctly remember telling my husband that the site reminded me of Thomas Kincaid’s paintings: it was serene and inviting and so very unique compared to all the other sites on the net. I fell in love with David’s fun writing style–from Devil with a Red Apron on to Confessions of a Hired Belly. His writing is always enticing and makes me come back for me. I look to LC for inspiration and am so honored that LC chose to support some of my own work. Happy Birthday! I wish you super success in the years to come.
–Monica Bhide, writer & blogger at A Life of Spice


David, are Internet years like dog years? If so, happy 1 3/4! Looking forward to your next 1 3/4…
–Amanda Hesser, food writer, cookbook author and founder of www.food52.com


Dear David Leite, and by that I mean dear, dear man with the wicked sense of humor and impeccable palate. How sad we would be if you didn’t do this work. How hungry we would be, too. Thank you for Leite’s Culinaria. It’s been my honor to write for you a time or two, teach a class, and do a memorable podcast with a suddenly awakened toddler who cried during the recording. (And you just smiled.) My life is far more savory with you in it.
–Shauna James Ahern, blogger at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and author of Gluten-Free Girl and Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
12 years went by quickly,
And you’re only 22!
–Barbara Fairchild, editor of Bon Appétit for the past 10 years


Happy Birthday, Leites Culinaria. I can’t remember when I first stumbled across your pages on the Internet, but it was a thrill to discover smart food writing with a wonderful sense of humor. I do, however, remember when David, the talent behind the pages, and I first met. No violins on the windy wet shores of Lake Michigan, but an instant attraction and an ensuing battle over a plate of fat as to who got the bigger portion. Guess who won? Best wishes for lucky year thirteen. And remember, David, you still owe me a piece of crackling.
Jennifer McLagan, fat evangelist and cookbook author



–Jaden Hair, blogger at Steamy Kitchen and author of Steamy Kitchen Cookbook


Happy birthday, Leite’s Culinaria, in all your spectacular deliciousness! David, I remember when you were a wee boy scampering across Portuguese hillsides with malasadas balanced in one hand, talking about how you were going to colonize Macao and then invent the Internet. Você percorreu um longo caminho, baby!
James Sturz, food, travel and fiction writer


Though I first learned on David’s website that radishes are actually wonderful when cooked (gawd, what a concept), I will always be grateful for two recipes from his New Portuguese Table: his mom’s savory braised beef in wine and garlic (to which I add a dash or two of a few spices recommended from an Azorean cookbook I picked up in Lisbon: cloves, coriander, cumin and nutmeg), and the heavenly crispy fried asparagus.  Aw, and how can I forget the super-easy punch potatoes?  And of course, David’s moving essay about learning to release himself from the tyranny of following recipes exactly, thanks again to his mom. Here’s to another twelve years of eloquent food celebration!
–Philip Graham is a fiction and nonfiction writer and a lover of all things Portuguese.  His most recent books are The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon and the forthcoming memoir, Africa, Braided Worlds (Spring 2012).


Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria
Recipes and inspiration to spare-ia
I don’t know what I would do if y’all weren’t there-ia!
Dig you all!
–Martha Hall Foose, James Beard Award-winning writer and author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea


Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria!  Can’t wait to see what the next 12 years will bring!
Giuliano Hazan, author, teacher, entrepreneur, authority on Italian cuisine,  and winner of the 2007 IACP Cooking Teacher of the Year Award.


In all the years I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to Leite’s Culinaria, I’ve never met the guy behind the blog. I know him through his food. I know how he stirs slow braises before sliding them into the oven, how he traipses across Portugal with broken bones, how he cuts guests giant slices of cake despite their best attempts at refusal, and how every holiday, he makes me feel like I’m making a version of mashed potatoes no one on the planet has ever conceived before, always knowing everyone at the table will love them. I think the ultimate LC recipe for me is David’s chocolate-chip cookie recipe. More than anything, I know first-hand that the writings he and his team curate for Leite’s Culinaria are honest, well-researched, and always, always thoughtful. Happy Birthday, Leite’s. Thank you for inspiring the best from these here fingers, and for making it better. I may never meet you, or figure out why everything I write for you turns to gold, but I will always know where to go for a good story, and a recipe that makes me want to sit down and write.
–Jess Thomson, a Seattle-based food writer and cookbook author currently working on Pike Place Market Recipes (spring 2012). Her daily rants, raves, and recipes can be found on her blog, Hogwash. She’s been writing for Leite’s Culinaria since 2007.


I am so proud to be colleagues in this best of all possible professions. Congratulations on your blog turning twelve. Mine is only one-third its age, and I feel as though I’ve been doing it forever! If I had to chose a top favorite from Leite’s Culinaria it would be the Pomegranate Poussin–one of my top favorite savory recipes of all time.
Lots of love,
Rose Levy Beranbaum, cookbook author


David, happy, happy birthday from one of your long-time friends and loyal fans! You are truly a renaissance man. My admiration is soooooo sincere and well-wishes are heartfelt. Bless you, David….and many, many happy returns of the day to you and your staff!!
Flo Braker, author of several baking books, including Simple Art of Perfect Baking and Baking for All Occasions


Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria and David! I’ve loved Leite’s Culinaria from the start, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I toast your birthday with a glass of virtual champagne and I am making the traditional Chinese birthday dish of longevity noodles in your honor! Long life and good fortune to Leite’s Culinaria!
With love,
Grace Young, wok evangelist and author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge


Bundt cake by Nancy BaggettI’ve had the honor of a number of my recipes being featured on Leite’s Culinaria over the years, as well as the pleasure of knowing this great site’s inimitable founder, David Leite. David, you done good! In fact, you done SO good, I baked a cake for your baby’s birthday. It features banana and chocolate, and case you want to do more than just look at it, I’ve posted the recipe for you.  May your pride and joy—and you, too, of course—enjoy many more wonderful birthdays to come. My very best to you!
–Nancy Baggett, award-winning cookbook author, food writer, baker, media guest chef, and blogger at kitchenlane.com


How appropriate to celebrate Leite’s Culinaria’s birthday and your fathering the site so appreciated by hundreds of thousands! Congratulations to you!  It has been a joy to watch your growth in the food writing world and beyond, David. I cheer you on and send best wishes to the young man who was on fire about words at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers many, many years ago. I am watching you from this treehouse, glad to see you rising in the ranks of our world of words!
Toni Allegra, career, writing coach, and founder of The Symposium for Professional Food Writers


Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria! One of my favorite LC remembrances happened offsite…but it’s logged somewhere in LC for posterity, I’m sure. A few years back, David Leite hosted an experiment called “Talking With Our Mouths Full,” in which he invited writers to step on stage and—horrors!—read their work ALOUD. In front of an AUDIENCE, for crying out loud.

I was one of the readers—still green and barely audible with stage fright!—alongside luminaries such as Kat Flinn, who read a chapter from her now-famous but then not-yet-published book, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry,  James Sturz, Elissa Altman, JJ Goode, and Gary Allen.  I never forgot the experience of hearing food writing read aloud—the poetic cadence, the dramatic pauses, and hearing and watching the audience laugh, nod in agreement, and respond. It was a heady experience.

So heady that now I’m hosting my own reader’s series:  Drink. Think. It’s for beverage writers, a little different than David’s original concept, but the inspiration continues. Perhaps one day a fledgling writer from my series —still green and barely audible with stage fright!—will one day carry on the tradition with an event of their own. Thanks for the inspiration, David and Leite’s Culinaria!
Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice:  60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails, spirits reviewer for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and curator of the Drink.Think reading series.


I would love to wish Leite’s Culinaria the happiest of birthdays! The blogosphere truly wouldn’t be the same without you. Your site is packed with not only mouth-watering recipes and wonderful photographs, but it is filled with wit, passion and creativity. I wish you many more wonderful years!
–Allison Malec, Clarkson Potter



    1. We’re really glad you enjoy the site Gregory. That’s basically how I ended up here, too. It’s been a great time ever since!

  1. A big fat congratulations to you, David. You have done a superb job and your hard work is to be commended. It is so much fun and an honour to be a part of LC. The information, articles and recipes are seriously inspiring. This is a place where true food folks can really feel at home talking about the best subject in the world. Thanks for all that you do.

    I know, I know. It’s too late for the cake. Hope you had a huge Coconut Cream Layer Cake for me!!

  2. Congratulations, David! That’s quite an accomplishment!

    Here’s to twelve more years of good food, wonderful stories, and trustworthy recipes.

    My first recipe — indeed, the whole reason I found your site — was Portuguese Sweet Bread, which I’m making next week. We’ll raise a slice in salute to you and LC.

  3. So, I’m late and I really am sorry about that and I guess by now you’ve cleaned up the mess from the party and the cake’s probably long gone… Still, I wanted to just toss in one last “Congrat.” Living by your wits is tough. Demanding, sometimes, and often scary. Somehow you make it look easy. Fun, too and like we’re all a part of it. That’s really something. So, honestly, congratulations.

  4. I orginally linked here from another blog, of which at present escapes my mind. I read many of the articles. Have tried a few of the recipes without disappointment. I love entering for chances at the wonderful giveaways and have even won one. Though I’ve been coming here for less than a year, it’s always been enjoyable. A Very Happy 12th Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria.

  5. Dear David and the Leitesculinaria Crew! Congratulations of your first dozen years! It’s been a blessing to watch the website evolve into a magnificent place to visit and enjoy. God bless you, son, and all of you “extended Leite Family Members.” Keep up the good work and keep “cranking!” May you have many, many successful, happy, productive years! Hard work pays off. Your thousands of subscribers are a blessing–the fruits of your labor!


    Mom and Dad

  6. Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria, David, and to you too! What a great accomplishment. While I have only joined your long list of subscribers recently, I must say that I have enjoyed all of your email updates, as well as the decadent recipes you have shared with us. I’m a better baker because of your site.

    Kudos! Wishing you and your team many more years of success!

    1. Sheila, how eloquent. You hit the nail on the head and echo part of our mission statement: A person can be as satisfied by eating a good meal as by reading about one.

  7. A very, very happy (though belated) birthday wish to LC. This has been an incredible ride with an amazing group of talented writers, cooks and testers.

  8. David, I don’t remember how I found about Leite’s Culinaria but receiving it is one of the highlights of my day! The recipes are reliable, well-written and inspiring. It was such fun to read postings from so many people that I know! We are all connected by a culinary umbilical cord that reaches around the world! I participated in an IACP teleconference about blogging that you led a few years ago and learned so much. Wishing you continued success and many delicious culinary adventures. Happy 12th birthday to LC! Next year you can celebrate a Baker’s Dozen!

    Norene Gilletz, Cookbook Author, Food Writer, Kosher Expert
    My world revolves around good food!

  9. I’m a relatively new visitor to the site but I make a stop by almost every day. Keep up the good work everyone!

  10. i have been receiving leite’s culinaria in my e-mail in box for about two years now. it is one of those e-mail letters i know i will open and read every time.

    the portuguese recipes have been invaluable, especially. the humour that shines through in every article really aids in negating my doom and gloom mentality on life and some of the simple, elegant dessert recipes i have tried will be in my repertoire for eons to come. (coconut snowball cupcakes or nyt’s marian burros‘ plum torte….wow)

  11. Dear Friend, Teacher, Mentor, Peer:

    I am honored to call you all of the above. Your site has made me laugh (Tales of a Super Taster) and made me cry (If it’s July Fourth, it Must be Deborah’s). I will never forget the day you called me to see if I would be interested in writing an article about chocolate for you (Hello, my name is Karletta Moniz, and I am a Chocoholic). Or the morning we had breakfast at Per Se…

    My birthday wish for you and Leite’s Culinaria is a bit selfish. I hope that you prosper and grow so that we may all continue to be enriched by your presence.


    1. Karletta, I’m so touched by your comment. Thank you. it has been a fun–what?–12 years? I love that your work graces the blog, and I hope we can grant your ¡selfish! wish for more from us.

  12. Happy Birthday to one of the three top websites that I go to when I need something really, really good….. It warms me to know I support an old freind and help to make what he does stay at my fingertips and makes my world so much more delicious! I love when you jog my memory of your childhood home and the goings-on, especially about your grandmother and that devil with the red apron on….xo to her. Thank you and keep up the good work!

    Anybody want to see high school pictures of Mr. Leite? I have a good one of Marco the Magnificent…

    1. Greg, thanks, old friend. Can it really be almost 35 years?! It’s so gratifying to know that we still stay in touch and are connected through food. But come on, does anyone really need to see those pictures…?!

  13. Happy Birthday Leite’s Culinaria. Since I discovered you several years ago, you have been a source of new books, new flavors, old flavors revisited and loved again, and much more. Thanks to David and the rest of the LC crowd for great prose, lovely photos and wonderful food all in celebration of life.

  14. Wow don’t you just love birthdays! LC you are the best, love being a tester, have learned so much and have had to diet in between testing to get ready for the next round. What a pleasure…

  15. Happy Birthday Leite’s Culinaria. I consider myself to be a novice in the kitchen, sticking to family recipes and old reliables. But I made a New Years resolution to learn and incorporate a new recipe each month into my repertoire. I am also a firefighter and love to find new dishes to make at the station. I started looking outside my normal avenues for something new and I came upon LC. So far, my favorites from the website are the Roast Chicken for two and the Bacon and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. But most recently, the article that resonated the most was Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s “Home Sweet(heart) Home” on Valentines Day. I was inspired to make homemade chocolate cupcakes with fresh butter cream frosting topped with heart brownies for my friends and my EMT students. They were a hit, and I got a kick out of doing something nice on such a fun day, even though I am without a Valentine. Thank you Leite’s Culinaria for the inspiration.

    1. Nicole, I’m so touched by your comment. I, too, am glad you found us and that we can be a small part of what you do at the firehouse. And thank you and your fellow firefighters for all you do to keep us safe.

  16. Happy Birthday! May you have many more! I love your little stories about you and The One, it makes me feel as if I know you. So, congratulations from one of the many friend’s you have never met! Cairine

  17. Happy Birthday, LC! I found you when I spied that towering Thankful Butterscotch Cake (which I made..it’s so sinfully good) and that was the initial hook. Poking around later, I found other mouth watering (and tested!) recipes, beautiful photography, interesting articles, and great interviews. The writing is superb and has lots of personality. David and Company, you have put together such a cogenial and well rounded interactive publication, it’s one that makes even little me, the homemaker, feel welcome. Thanks, everyone!
    uh…you gonna eat that last piece of cake?

  18. Happy Birthday Leite’s Culinaria. David, I found your site years ago as I was researching my Portuguese/Azorean heritage on Lusa Web. I loved everything about it and still do, however the most lovely memory I have was when you helped us plan a trip to Portugal by guiding us to the best restaurants and sites. I still dream of the deep fried green beans at Pap Acorda!! Without your help, the trip would still have been fabulous of course, but with it we had an even better time and visited places we never would have found on our own. Thank you for all that you do and for making Leite’s a truly personal gift to its readers.

  19. Happy Birthday Leite’s Culinaria! I love your website. The recipes and humour are awesome! Here’s to the next 12 years!

  20. Feliz Cumpleaños (12 years) to Leite’s Culinaria, I look forward to your post everyday to inspire us to try something new, delicious, and creative. Enjoy reading about books I am interested in and how to buy them quickly. Keep up the great work and I look forward to many more years to come. Lord knows what the future will bring.

  21. Happy Birthday Leite’s Culinaria. I don’t know how I managed to find your site or exactly when it was (but it was a long time ago) but that is my very good fortune – over the years you have given much pleasure, good eating, many chuckles, and I look forward to many, many more such happy times. Thank you all for what you do.

  22. Many happy returns! I’m honored to be a part of this amazing team. Now, about that cake…

  23. Happy Belated Birthday, Leite’s! (It’s still your birthday week.) Congratulations on serving up such tasty/spicy/nourishing fare these past dozen years. I will be sure to eat a prandicle in your honor.

  24. Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria!!! How the years have gone by, it feels like yesterday when I typed “Portuguese recipes” and found you. Then honored a few years later to meet the master mind behind it all at a baking class in Canton. I’m lucky to have found your writing, collection of recipes and the humor!!!

  25. ¡Enhorabuena! Attracted first by a whiff of Iberia (where else to find bacalao?) I returned for the wit. And, almost daily postings! How do you do it for 12 years?

  26. Happy Birthday LC – and congratulations to David. I’ve been a fan of LC for a number of years and have had the pleasure of being a tester for the past year or two. LC is the best of the best! Many happy returns.

  27. Tanti Auguri!!!!!!! It was a pleasure meeting you the IACP conference. Grazie mille for all of the laughs and insight you shared during the session about writing for the web. If I had known it was your anniversary weekend I would have brought you a few dolci Siciliani!

    Un caro saluto,

    Renée Restivo

  28. Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria, thank you David for allowing me to be a part of the family, it has been an exciting journey thus far, I look forward to many more years as one of the Ladies of Leite’s.

    And want to echo Allison’s thanks to all of our readers..

    Now for the cake, chocolate please.

  29. Happy birthday to Leite’s Culinaria, my home away from home so to speak. In today’s world, many (or most) people spend more time with work colleagues than they do with their own families, and I have to say I couldn’t wish for a more splendid extended family.

    Make a wish, LC, blow out the candles. Let us eat cake (which I did tonight, in copious portions). And thanks so much to everyone—especially readers—who keep us moving on toward… the teenage years?! Good grief. (And you thought we had attitude now.)

  30. 12 years of well-done hard work! I am honored to have baked you an apple pie oh so many years ago! Happy Birthday and many more!

  31. Happy birthday to LC! I stumbled upon your site a few years ago as I was looking for the Pastéis de Belém recipe as the one I had from my grandmother was overly complex and in metric system. Since I became an avid ready of both the recipes as well as the witty and sometimes somehow sarcastic writings of David Leite. Being that my older daughter also shares my passion for cooking and is also 12 years old, I asked her to choose the recipe we have tried from LC site she likes the most. Well would anyone be surprised she chose Ultimate chocolate chip cookies?

  32. I didn’t get my birthday wish by the deadline (bad girl!), but I have a warm birthday message for Leite’s Culinaria just the same.

    Can it really be a dozen years have passed? You don’t look old enough to have a 12-year-old! Cheers to you, David. You prove that if you dream it, you can make it happen. So helpful to have loads of talent, of course.

    A toast to your success, and here’s to another 12 years…


    Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and the upcoming The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (Viking/Penguin, October 2011)

  33. Wow! I’m so touched by all your sentiments and comments. They mean the world to me. I had no idea when I started LC that it would grow from a small portfolio of my writing to what it is today. It’s an honor to be honored by you all. My heart is full.

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