I’m so excited to introduce you all to this month’s SHE Media Partner Spotlight, David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria. David is an incredible talent, with the personality (and energy) of five bloggers in one! Read our interview below to find out his favorite Leite’s Culinaria recipes, but mine for sure is his chocolate chip cookies!
Hi David, tell us a little about yourself and your day-to-day life.
I’m a website/blog publisher, cookbook author, memoirist, and podcaster. Basically, a writer. My day-to-day life is frantic, hectic, and changes constantly. Some days it’s all about writing. Others are filled with the business of SEO, social media, stats, and numbers. (My least favorite days.) Then there are my podcast days, photo shoot days, and video shoot days. I’ve forgotten what a weekend is.
How did Leite’s Culinaria find its inception?
I had written an article originally titled “Lights, Camera, Recipes” for the Chicago Sun-Times. That was back in 1998. It was about the then-novel idea of videotaping family members making favorite dishes so that there would always be a record. I thought this thing called the World Wide Web was interesting and would catch on, so I created a website in Dreamweaver as a way of allowing others to read my work. And the next thing I knew, I started getting a following, which was much harder back them because social media hadn’t been invented yet.
How has the food blogging space changed since you began?
When I started there were a handful of food sites. A handful, that was it! Now there are probably millions of food blogs and sites. The best thing that happened is the Internet democratized food writing. No longer do you need to get through the gatekeepers at traditional media’s doors to get published. You could simply write what you want. And that’s also the worse thing that happened. There was a time when incorrect information, bad recipes–even dangerous recipes (adding non-edible flowers to a cake!) flooded the Internet. But now I see much more attention being paid to accurate information, care in testing recipes, and a thoughtful approach to food.
I know you’re an avid reader, David, share with us your favorite book?
It depends when! Right now I’m reading “Savage Feast” by Boris Fishman, which I’m enjoying a lot. Up next is Elissa Altman’s “Motherland.”
If you could wake up tomorrow in any city in the world, where would you choose?
Lisbon. I just love that city. The light is magical. The people a delight. And the food! I could eat it all day long. And I have! Of course, it does help that I’m Portuguese and can kind of speak the language.
What social media platform are you liking the best right now?
Instagram. I love the visual impact and immediacy of it The images aren’t desecrated, as they are on Pinterest, by absurdly tall and narrow formats, text a mile high, and a gazillion ads. There’s still a purity to the platform.
What has been your biggest success as a food blogger?
Being the first website ever to win a James Beard Award, which is the food industry’s top honor. And we did it twice in a row!
Who are your favorite bloggers and why?
I love David Lebovitz because of his recipes (very well tested) and his narrative. Who doesn’t want to be live in Paris? Then there’s Amanda Faber and her amazing baked goods. I also like The Perfect Loaf. Maurizio Leo is someone I turn to again and again for bread advice and inspiration. Let’s not forget The Vanilla Bean Blog and Sarah Kieffer. (Hmmm, I just spotted a pattern–almost all are baking blogs.)
What are your three favorite recipes on LeitesCulinaria.com?
Any advice for food bloggers just getting started on how to grow their audience?
Yes, lots! Stand out. Have something to say. Have a point of view. Own a niche. It’s not enough anymore to be, say, a baking blogger. You need to have a particular take on baking. Innovate, don’t imitate. Does the world really need yet one more S’mores cake? What else can you come up with that will forever be associated with you?
What actor would play you in a movie based on your life?
I would like to say someone like Channing Tatum, but The One insists on Oliver Platt. Oy.
And one last question. How has SHE Media evolved over your time as a partner?
I was involved with SHE Media, and all its former incarnations, as far back as 2008, so I’ve had a front-row seat to many of the changes. I think the biggest and most positive evolution is that SHE Media is now my business partner. I’m a creative. I care about building a wonderful, exciting, enjoyable user experience. SHE Media keeps me on track business-wise. The folks there–and I have an amazing team–help me meet and surpass goals, make sure I’m compliant with the latest rules and regulations, brainstorm ways to be more profitable and work more effectively, help me find opportunities to build my brand, vet information, and make it easier for me to create. The impact has been extremely beneficial.