Today’s guest post is by cookbook writer Leda Scheintaub, whose new book, Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen is at the top of my holiday gift list – both to give and (hopefully!) receive. Leda’s journey to published author is an inspiring one, and I’m as delighted to bring it to you here as I am to welcome Leda to my neck of the woods. With best wishes for Thanksgiving, Deborah Lee Luskin
Growing up I had a mission: to share with the world the dangers of refined sugar and the horrors of factory farming. In high school printmaking class I created a notepad stamped with “Leda’s Natural Sweets” for penning my favorite recipes, and my most memorable piece of writing was a paper titled “One Man’s Meat Is Another Man’s Poison.”
I experimented with gluten-free baking before there was such a thing called gluten-free baking, and by the time I worked my way to managing editor at Penguin Books, I counted many and varied diets.
Though I loved the publishing world, I wasn’t a nine-to-fiver, and my early dream of a life in food remained a constant.
The day I was assigned the new edition of Rebecca Wood’s The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia the seed was planted for a career shift. Rebecca became my mentor, and her invitation into the world of traditional foods inspired me to take my love for food to a new level. What sealed the deal was a blowout with my boss at The New Press just a few years later, coincidentally on the day of an open house at the Natural Gourmet Institute. The evening’s winning raffle ticket was my ticket to a new chapter in my life; with it I promised myself I’d enroll.
By the time I finished my culinary education (supplemented with cookbook copyediting classes at NYU), I had lined up a few private chef clients and I began to take on freelance cookbook work. It was enough to leave my day job.
My first jobs were proofreading cookbooks, then copyediting and editing. Testing recipes came next, then writing headnotes, developing content for recipes, talking with authors, bringing out their voice; I found few people had the unique match of editorial and culinary skills that I offered.
I found a niche: celebrity ghostwriter. I recommend this career path for those with both an eye for the minutia of the English language and an obsession for precision recipe writing. It’s not glamorous, but it’s rewarding and it keeps me away from the daily grind. And it enabled me to land my first solo book deal, and with it a platform to share that early mission of health, healing, and making the world a better place with the food we put on our plates.
Leda Scheintaub trained as a chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and has been a recipe tester, editor, and writer for the past thirteen years. Her most recent cookbook is Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation. Her next book, The Whole Bowl: Gluten-Free Dairy Free Soups and Stews, with Rebecca Wood, will be published in January 2015. Visit her at www.ledaskitchen.com and on Facebook and Twitter.