David Leite is the resident Fatty Daddy behind Leite’s Culinaria, which he founded in 1999, long before blogs came into existence. Though you may know David best by the witticisms and wisdom he shares online, he’s also shared his perspective on pretty much everything in print, radio, and television. His first book, The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast, won the 2010 IACP First Book/Julia Child Award. And his most recent book, Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression, was published by Dey Street Books in 2017.
In 2006, he had the distinction of being the first winner ever of a James Beard Award for a website. He won the 2008 James Beard Award for Newspaper Feature Writing Without Recipes for his article “In a ’64 T-Bird, Chasing a Date with a Clam” and was nominated for the same award the following year for his article “Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret,” both from the New York Times. David’s award-winning way of seeing the world has repeatedly been included in the Best Food Writing series. He’s also shared his opinion in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Men’s Health, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Post, Charlotte Observer, and TheMorningNews.org.
Always a talker, David has been heard on NPR’s “All Thing Considered” and was a longtime correspondent and guest host on public radio’s The Splendid Table.
When David’s not hunched over the computer, chances are he’s cooking Tagliatelle with Leeks and Shrimp, Julia Child’s Coq au Vin, or Pumpkin Cake With Maple–Cream Cheese Frosting with his partner, The One Who Brings Him Love, Joy, and Happiness (aka The One).
Editor in Chief
Renee grew up in the kitchen alongside her grandmother, a relentless clipper and tweaker of recipes. As a teen, Renee later sorta lost and found herself in the Gourmet magazines she found lying around her dad’s house, less for the recipes than for the way the accompanying words poetically captured the countless ways food intersects with life and memories. During the last couple decades, she’s left her trace as an editor at Leite’s Culinaria as well as The Washington Post food section, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living, and her writing and editing have drawn recognition from NPR, the Wall Street Journal, The Best American Food Writing collections of essays, and The Best American Recipes cookbook series. And New York Times food writer Kim Severson has referred to Leite’s Culinaria as the only source she trusts for recipes aside from the NYT. Renee has stacks of cookbooks that teeter in Seussian stacks throughout her house, although lately, more often than not, when she’s not at her computer or stovetop you’ll find her teaching or taking yoga, which, to her, is like cooking in that it’s a way to both lose and find yourself in whatever’s in front of you. She appreciates simple, unfussy, yet smartly conceived and executed recipes such as Salt and Pepper Rib Eye Steak, Momofuku Fried Chicken, the loveliest Pad Thai she’s ever experienced, and Watermelon and Ginger.
Director of Recipe Testing
Years ago, while friends traipsed back from Paris toting suitcases bulging with the latest French fashions, Beth lugged bags laden with mandoline and copper cookware from E. Dehillerin. It proved to be a smart choice. She still relies on that cookware as Director of Recipe Testing for Leite’s Culinaria, which requires testing, tweaking, retesting, and sometimes more tweaking before she’ll deem a recipe fit to publish. Got a query about gluten-free flour, an overly dense bread dough, or a new-to-you cut of meat? Beth can dish on any or all. She’s also styled food for photo shoots, prepped ingredients for video clips and live television appearances, assisted in professional cooking classes, and rubbed elbows with an eclectic array of cookbook authors and chefs. Her styling and original recipes have been featured in Where Women Cook, Celebrate!, Pieography, The Local Palate and the Post and Courier. She mentored and learned her craft under Nathalie Dupree and was thrilled to be a part of the James Beard Awards for Nathalie’s win with Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking. Beth divides her time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Grand Cayman. When not communicating with our 100+ home cooks who serve as recipe testers, Beth can be found making Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, Thai Basil Pork, and Lemongrass-and-Cilantro-Crusted Ehu with Black Rice and Mango for her sons and husband.
As a child, Angie spent her Saturdays cooking alongside her dad and has never looked back. As an adult, given her strong attention to detail and endless desire to try new recipes and discover new techniques, she quickly found her calling at Leite’s Culinaria. Beyond editing recipes and collaborating with the team at Leite’s Culinaria, Angie spends the ridiculously short Canadian summers seeking inspiration in her garden and the infinitely long winters thinking about what to plant the next year. When she’s not puttering in her garden, cheering her kids on at dance competitions, hockey, and baseball games, or curled up with a cookbook, she can be found happily making the recipes her family loves most, including Kimchi Tacos, Salmon Teriyaki, and South Carolina Slaw.
Jack Van Amburg
Food has always been a central part of Jack’s life, back to the days of standing on a stool in the kitchen so he could keep an eye on his toaster waffles. When he wasn’t learning from his mother and grandmothers, he was watching Food Network and reading back issues of Gourmet and Saveur. A classically trained cellist, Jack started working in kitchen stores during grad school for fun and loved getting to try out all the new cooking products and running cooking demonstrations. Somehow six years went by across three different companies and with virtually nothing left to use his associate discount on, he returned to Los Angeles for a change of pace. He started testing recipes for Leite’s back in January of 2020 and now is in charge of site operations, making sure all the trains run on time.
He loves cooking for his friends, especially Waffle Sunday. He is teased mercilessly by his family for his cookbook and cookware collections and there are rumors of a potential intervention for his seventeen pieces of Staub cast-iron, which he vehemently argues is still not enough. He is very firmly Team Pie (sorry, not sorry, cake) and loves exploring hole-in-the-wall restaurants and markets across the LA region. Lately, he’s been grilling steaks with coffee rub, roasting mushrooms in foil packets, testing every recipe with Moroccan spices that comes his way (including eggplant shakshuka), and baking his one true love, Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie.
LC Community Moderator
Dan began his cooking career in his early childhood. He’s a meticulous and self-taught cook and occasional baker. Relying on cookbooks, international media and travelling as his teachers, an inspired love of global cuisine has grown and flourished over the years. We’re lucky enough to count him among the original recipe testers for Leite’s Culinaria. Dan curates our “What’s For Dinner?” on Facebook. Along with some exciting global moderators, he has been inspiring others to be as excited as he is about what ingredients are used and what preparations are chosen to grace the dinner table. Our devoted, good-natured Canadian considers many of Leite’s Culinaria recipes to be quite exceptional. Over the years, Spring Lamb with Rosemary and Venison Bolognese, Bucatini all’Amatriciana are some of the regular visitors to his table. Other favorites include Baked Ricotta, Panzanella from Ina Garten, and an absolutely fabulous Carrot Crostada.
Cenk is an author, photographer, and food stylist based in İstanbul. After graduating from college, he moved to San Francisco, where he earned an MBA from the University of San Francisco and worked at a high-tech PR firm. On realizing that he’d rather eat glass than sit through another client conference call discussing another “groundbreaking” product, he returned to İstanbul. There, in 2006, he started his food blog Cafe Fernando, which has been cited as one of the “World’s 50 Best Food Blogs” by the Times of London and awarded “Best Culinary Travel Blog,” “Best Original Baking and Desserts Recipe,” and “Best Piece of Culinary Writing” at Saveur magazine’s Blog Awards. He ditched the corporate world in 2010, became a full-time food blogger, and began work on his first cookbook. His Turkish cookbook, Cafe Fernando, published in June 2014, became the bestselling cookbook of all time in Turkey. The English version of his cookbook, The Artful Baker–Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker, was published by Abrams in October 2017. David’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Dorie Greenspan’s Korova Cookies, and Christina Tosi’s Cereal Milk are in constant rotation in his kitchen.
Social Media Specialist
Diana began cooking with her mother and grandmother at an early age. She most remembers taco nights after a day at the lake, angel food cakes resting atop glass Pepsi bottles, a counter spread with fresh praline pecans, and thousands of frosted Christmas cookies each December.
Diana is responsible for our Pinterest and Twitter content and has been working with us since 2013. When she’s not busy at the computer, she’ll likely be found sipping at a local Virginia winery, pulling weeds in her garden, mulling through her ridiculously vast cookbook collection (by the way, it’s not hoarding if your stuff is cool), or relaxing on the back deck with her husband, Joe, and trying to get him to agree to adopt another dog.
Adam began pursuing a career as an audio engineer at the age of 12 and never second-guessed it. He kept his head down, found some fantastic mentors, and made it happen. And he still makes it happen by continually finding new ways to educate himself and experiment. Adam’s career has brought him face to face with some of his childhood idols in television, film, sports, and music as well as with world-famous venues. Upon meeting David and Renee, he quickly felt comfortable surrounded by their dry wit and banter. After all, they were the first clients to ever drop a South Park reference, and if that’s not a good measure of your company, then what is? [Editor’s Note: No, it wasn’t David.] Always a wannabe foodie, Adam’s found it to be an honor and pleasure to be a part of Talking With My Mouth Full. And it’s even inspired him to begin his first sourdough starter!
When not making noise between the speakers, Adam might be found cooking for his wife and three children, something along the lines of a slow-cooker pulled pork, a lemony fettuccine alfredo, or salmon teriyaki. And if the sourdough starter never starts, then probably our famous 5-minute artisan bread!
Assistant Photo Editor
While growing up with probably one of the biggest families you’ll ever meet, Lana would be bombarded with crazy good homemade Vietnamese food, which led to a love for foods that are deceivingly simple but complex. Hunting for mom and pop shops and the best local food is always a priority when traveling. Anthony Bourdain is one of her most respectable idols and he wasn’t wrong when he said, “For me, a good bowl of pho will always make me happy.”
As a photo editor and creative collaborator, Lana loves film photography and cinematography. After breaking away from the pre-med life, she is currently taking a deep dive into all aspects of design with endless learning.
Never able to cook for one, Lana is caught in between having the best leftovers for days or happily eating with friends and family. Her appetite is insatiable when it comes to Korean food, especially grilling barbecue over charcoal and making lettuce wraps out of meat and banchan. Yakitori is another all-time favorite to cook over flames, and when she’s feeling fancy, lamb is personally top tier. When not making caffeinated drinks for regulars, Lana loves to sling drinks. Her go-to is a spicy margarita.
Kevin has been filming and editing ever since he picked up his first camera at the age of 16. From there, he’s been chasing his dreams of becoming a full-time media artist working with the Cannes Film Festival, Universal Parks, and Warner Bros. Pictures. Since moving to New York, he’s been continually learning through new and expansive opportunities, one of which led to meeting David (fortuitously for us). After many Zoom chats with David during the pandemic, Kevin understood that this was an incredible opportunity to work with some of the most genuine people he’s ever met in the online industry.
When not traveling and filming, Kevin can be found cooking for his girlfriend and pet pug, Pancake, quick snacks such as the Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie, Shaved Asparagus Pizza, and Carnitas Tacos!
Besides sniffing out stories about food, people who make food, and places that feature food to feature on our podcast, Talking With My Mouth Full, Emily is an associate producer at WGBH in Boston where she produces radio and digital broadcasts about the Boston community and beyond. She holds degrees in mediated communication and English literature from Stonehill College and is a recent alumna of the Transom Traveling Workshop in audio storytelling.
Manny the Milkman
Manny may be new to you, but in fact, he’s been around for decades. He first made an appearance in 1966 when one day Momma Leite looked at David and said, “Hey, kiddo, you know something? You’re the milkman’s son!” Perplexed, David looked at his father, then his mother, then back at his father. They both nodded solemnly. He walked to his room shaking his head, wondering how on earth Mr. Lawton, their milkman, could be his father, seeing as he was old enough to be Momma Leite’s father. It took him several days, but he finally figured it out. “Leite” means milk in Portuguese. David’s dad is Manny, who’s a man and has the last name of Leite, er milk. Ergo, David is the milk man’s son. When Manny asked to come on board as LC’s brand ambassador, he was welcomed with open arms. Because he’s eternally in a crisp white uniform, which he’s careful not to sully, Manny eats only white food, such as Fork-Mashed Potatoes, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and, of course, Cereal Milk.