Ep. 1: Why, Hello New Podcast

Talking With My Mouth Full

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It all began when I was about 10 years old. Whenever my parents and I visited my avó and avô (that’s Portuguese for grandmother and grandfather) and the rest of the Leite family in Somerville, MA, I’d gather my ensemble of cousins for the express purpose of staging musical spectaculars on my Aunt Irene’s back porch. I was the director, naturally, and my word was law. (Oh, how little things have changed, I can hear Renee thinking.) [Editor’s Note: Yup. Precisely.] One show in particular featured an all-Beatles lineup in which I directed my distant cousin Elaine to slowly walk down the porch stairs as she sang “Let It Be.” (This was also the era of Cher, hence the many long, slow stair descents and excessive hair flipping in my directives.) I made her do this over and over again until, frustrated, I climbed to the top of the stairs and did my own descent. Never was a David Leite spectacular more spectacular.

A little later, I discovered The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. How many times did I dream that I was the seventh Brady kid (in between Greg and Peter) and had my own solo in the finale of each show? And how can I express to you just how achingly desperate I was to have one of those synthetic, powder blue jumpsuits?

Yet even with ambition fierce enough to make Eve Harrington pee herself—as well as serious acting training at Carnegie Mellon University—stardom never found me. The closest I ever came to fame? Playing a zombie in George Romero’s “Day of the Dead.” (I wasn’t even the kind of zombie that exploded in glorious gushes of blood. No, I was just an extra’s extra, in the back row, crying quietly.)

Through it all, though, I repeatedly heard, “You have such a great voice. You should consider radio.” (Well, okay, not on the zombie set. All I did there was groan.) But radio? Motion picture’s poorest relation? I’d rather have a 9 to 5 office job than do radio.

Ah, be careful what you wish for, children. Eighteen years of soul-sucking, fluorescent-lit servitude followed.

Now, older, wiser, and fatter, I realize that radio and its equally distinguished cousin, the podcast, are more than worthy of my time. But it’s not the lure of fame that elbowed me to create our new podcast, Talking with My Mouth Full, but rather it’s my desire to be of service to you. (Oh, hell, who am I kidding? I still fantasize that someday a casting director will hear me and stand, fist raised to the sky à la Scarlett O’Hara, and shout, “I’ve found my star!”)

Until then I’m all yours. Heart and soul.

Most kidding aside, though, the reason Renee, my editor-in-chief, and I created this podcast was to bring to life the writers whose words grace our pages, the cookbook authors whose recipes you desire, and the LC staffers who may not be familiar to you but whose fingerprints are all over every post. We also wanted you to hear from our beloveds–those folks who populate our lives and our stories, including The One (Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness), Momma Leite (my mother, who else?), E (the love of Renee’s life), and, wait for it, you. Yup, we’re inviting you, our dear readers, on the show as our guests. What’s that? You don’t have a blog or cookbook? No Food Network show or line of cookware? Like we care. If you possess a kick-ass lasagne recipe (I personally prefer béchamel, just like Giuliano Hazan’s recipe), wield an unorthodox way of making mashed potatoes (I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for mashed potato recipes), or regularly debate whether or not nuts belong in chocolate chip cookies (they don’t) [Editor’s Note: Oh, brother], we want to hear from you. Just email Renee at renee@leitesculinaria.com.

Lest you think we went all DIY and locked ourselves and a digital recorder in a closet (I’m through with closets, but that’s another post), think again. We reached out to my mentor Sally Swift, managing producer over at The Splendid Table, who recommended producer and impresario Tom Voegeli (pronounced “vaguely,” but trust me, he’s anything but). Tom was one of the creators of The Splendid Table, so we knew we were in capable hands.

That’s when our education began and the meetings, calls, texts, emails, and faxes commenced. I feel like I’ve graduated from what amounted to a crash course in radio production after working with Tom. For my previous podcast, Authors’ Answers, everything was a no-brainer. I stuck a microphone in front of a writer and we talked. This was a brave new world. Suddenly I had to share the mike (egads!) with my lovely and talented co-host, Renee. We had to find a rhythm and get used to each other. [Editor’s Note: What he really means is find ways to politely and diplomatically disagree.] Add to that musical snippets, multiple guests, ISDN lines to London and other far-flung places, loooong days locked in a recording studio with takes and retakes and more retakes, and enough four-letter words flying out of my mouth to make the rap world proud. Stardom doesn’t come easily, folks.

Yet under Tom’s careful watch, enough material came together for a couple of podcasts, and after several rounds of edits, we ended up with what’s before you, our first ever, our debut, our launch, our world premiere, with the second podcast to follow in just a few weeks. Renee and I are a little nervous, as you can imagine. And we’re more than a little desperate for you to let us know what you think. Just please be gentle…after all, we’re virgins.

David Leite's signature



  1. David, My Wife and I met you on a cruise last September. Had a great time getting to know you! Congratulations on the new blog! I read about in TastingTable and knew it was you. I had lost your card so I was glad to find you again.

  2. Great podcasts, you guys! I had to stifle my laughter during the Rosemary Clooney song. I work in financial services and we’re supposed to be very serious and professional.

    1. Many thanks, ATNell. I can think of no higher praise than that. And I don’t know about David, but I take it as a personal challenge to continue to make you crack up at work with each future podcast! Kindly let me know how we’re faring in that regard…! Thanks again for taking the time to write. Made my day.

  3. I had to install itunes to listen. I know, I know. But it’s true. I downloaded an Item (or should I say iTem) especially so I could listen to you guys! So glad I did. I have also subscribed, which is something that I never do. I’m not a joiner. Did you know that I call my husband The Beloved? Well, it’s true! Love you!

    1. Well, Jenni, I’m honored to be the man who wrenched you out of the 20th century. And to get you to subscribe? Why, I’m speechless, which, if you know me, is a very hard thing to do indeed.

  4. My sister staged plays too. She was so relentless in her creative spin that she barked orders and sent my friends home in tears, although I was immune to her impossible-ness. I called her and read the first paragraph and we were hysterically laughing!

    1. Gordana, thanks for writing. Well, I guess I did my job, then. There is nothing I love more than making people laugh. Well, feeding people and making them laugh.

  5. I’m beaming after listening to this today. I had to replay your segment with The One for The One I have here at home because the conversation sounded so familiar. (He has 5th Avenue tastes as well.) And I don’t think my life will be the same now that I know I don’t have to wait for the butter any longer. Seriously. (Bravo sir.)

    1. [Fanning myself rather quickly with the NY Times Magazine] Why, sir, you’re making me blush! Kidding aside, so glad you liked the podcast. It’s something Renee and I poured our hearts and souls into. And the conversation sounds familiar? And here I was thinking we were so unique! ; ) We have lots more “Green Acres” segments coming up, so keep tuning in.

  6. I loved everything about this. Renee’s lovely voice, David’s hilarious accent as the waiter and David and the ones Green Acres banter about chickens. Looking forward to more of these. Reminds me a bit of the storytelling festival in Tenn. which is so much fun, or listening to public radio stories while driving on long trips with my family or the George and Gracie show. Thanks and keep um coming!

  7. I agree with Jamie, the chemistry is overwhelming! I’m going with the BRILLIANT George and Gracie but, I am as yet, undecided as to which is which. The whole Green Acres thing may have skewed things a bit.

      1. I’m thinking you two have the chemistry of Doris and George from the movie “Same Time Next Year” Well, except for the affair thing..but you knew what I meant, right? :)

        1. Hah! Oh yes, trust me, we know what you mean, Susan. (Well, sorta. I’ve of course heard of them, although shamefully I haven’t seen the movie, but I just put it in my Netflix queue, so I shall, posthaste!)

  8. Well, David, you are a star and this podcast showed just how talented you are, how much star-quality you own. And, yes, what a voice! I loved this, loved it! You and Renee are, well, how can I put it? Lucy and Desi? Lucy and Ethel? Laurel and Hardy? George and Gracie? It is utterly brilliant and absolutely entertaining–even as we learn something new. I have always loved radio–think Prairie Home Companion! And it is true that the images become something vibrant in our mind’s eye. And oooh I loved you and The One singing. Keep on going, both of you!

    1. jamielifesafeast, I’m blown away. Thank you!! I have to say I was without a doubt the most skeptical person when it came to whether Renee and I could work together as hosts. We’re so different, have such differing views, tastes, preferences. It was Tom, our producer, who the minute he heard Renee speak said, “Yes, she’s the one.” (Ha! I have two The One’s in my life now!) Renee and I looked at each other and went, “Huh?”

      So this is dedicated to my dear Renee.

      1. Many, many thanks, Jamie. I have to admit, I sorta still don’t get it, but as long as we can amuse you all with our everyday antics, so be it! And David, many thanks. To quote your little ditty, you’re a turkey dinner!

  9. How fun was this? I loved it! You must do more exchanges between you and The One. Chickens, David? Really? The way this scene played in my head was an hysterical disaster…worse than any kitchen disaster! Especially after your winter meltdown post, I see this playing out to a (funny, scene worthy but) no good end…hahahaha!

    1. Susan, it will be interesting to see who wins, er, prevails in Battle Chicken. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Oh, and you can be sure “Green Acres” will return frequently on the podcast.

  10. Very nice to put a voice with the face, so to speak! Looking forward to more.

    Must say, though: I have a few hens who provide lovely organic eggs. I don’t refrigerate the eggs, and only wash them if they have a bit of mud or poop on the shell, and then I wash them under running water and use them right away. And although I get the occasional egg with a feather or mud or poop on the shell, I cannot imagine selling (or even giving away) the poopy eggs!

    1. Quinn, thank you. For the kind words AND the support about raising chickens. I think it would be a huge asset, and educational, too. I know a lot of people who don’t refrigerate local eggs. And, think about it: We’ve been cooking with eggs far, far longer than we have had refrigerators!

      1. Hey there, David – coming back to ask where you got that crack-the-egg-on-the-side method of avoiding shell fragments in the bowl! I’ve been using it lately and cannot believe how well it has worked so far. Does it always work? You’ve probably cracked about a million eggs, so your data will be pretty compelling :)

        1. Quinn, we got directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Mark Scarbrough told us. And it doesn’t always work–I’ve cracked some eggs a bit too hard. But on the whole, it’s a pretty failsafe method.

  11. David, what a delight! Very well done. So good to hear you again after so long. Kitchen disasters? I’ll never forget that Thanksgiving in Brooklyn Heights when, if I recall correctly, you attempted to make your first pecan pie and didn’t have a clue what you were doing (I remember you mixing the raw ingredients in the pie pan with your hands). How far you’ve come! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks, Jon. Do you remember that we videotaped that Thanksgiving? And we were imitating Julia Child? My parents STILL play it and crack up. Gosh, that was several millennia ago, huh?

  12. Love this! So much is carried forward in the spoken word, yet it’s often overlooked as a credible medium in today’s visual driven world. Thank you for reminding us the best visuals are formed in the mind’s eye. Congratulations on the launch.

  13. ADORE. Since I have a terrible habit of checking all social media before I get out of bed, I have to admit to listening to your entire podcast in bed in the dark. Never did I laugh harder (and scared the cat more) than when you, dear David, and The One sang the Green Acres theme song. Keep it up, friends. Good luck, Renee…

    1. Susan, well, since you’re married to radio royalty, that’s says a lot. The One and I debated again and again if we should sing it or pull it from the soundtrack. Insanity prevailed.

  14. I love this! Where have you been all this time?? Can you all hang out in MY kitchen? Please. My oven will love you forever.

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