Farming for Health Podcast #10: Leslie Brenner

Farming for Health Podcast #10: Leslie Brenner

Leslie Brenner is the founder and editor in chief of Cooks Without Borders, an online destination for passionate cooks who want to explore the world and learn about other cultures through cooking. 

As a longtime journalist, she served as the food editor at the Los Angeles Times until the early 2000s and as a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure. She’s authored five books about food and wine, as well, including American Appetite: The Coming of Age of a Cuisine and The Fourth Star: Dispatching from Inside Daniel Boulud’s Celebrated New York Restaurant.

Plus, she also served as the longtime restaurant critic at the Dallas Morning News—and is the winner of not one, but two, coveted James Beard Awards.

As a restaurant critic, she experienced plenty of fun because she loves restaurants: the hospitality and theater of it all plus the dining experience that can be enjoyed with others. That said, Leslie notes, as a critic, you went to both wonderful and terrible restaurants, and it was hard on the body to eat out so much—even when marvelous ingredients were used.

As a native Californian, Lesie simply missed seasonal eating. She grew up with a plum tree and a persimmon tree, also planting radishes, plucking food from bushes to eat, and so forth. That, she says, was the ultimate romance. Her mother loved to cook, doing so from cookbooks. After her parents’ divorce, Leslie also got to watch her dad as he had fun while teaching himself to cook. 

That taught her that cooking wasn’t just about the results. It was about the process. 

Then, in 2015, when some people in the United States were talking about building walls, she realized that she wanted to tear down walls and build bridges through cooking, helping others to learn about different cultures that way. She therefore founded Cooks Without Borders. Then, in 2017, Leslie helped to found two restaurants (Billy Can Cann and Hatchways Cafe), stepping away from journalism to enter the world of restaurant consulting. This, naturally enough, contributed another helpful perspective to Cooks Without Borders, which recently won a Webby Award.

You can listen to the rest of her story in her own words in our Farming for Health podcast, Enjoying the Process, Connection and Soup

Past Episodes of our Farming for Health Podcast

If you’ve missed any of our previous episodes, you can find them here:

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