Leigh Suznovich is the culinary force behind Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen. She is a culinary graduate from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and also graduated from Rutgers University with a double major in History and Political Science.
After graduating from culinary school, she worked for The Chef’s Connection doing freelance interviewing, writing and editing. It is where she’s had the privilege of interviewing and writing about some of the top chefs in New York, including Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel and cake master artist Ron Ben-Israel.
1. I love the idea of you creating a food blog that is dedicated to your incredible grandmothers. Speaking of grandmothers, what was the one thing you learned about cooking from Nana Person? What did you learn from your Nana Lulu?
I learned so much about cooking from both of them. They had such a huge impact on my culinary voice. My Nana Person was the one who really developed my palate for more exotic foods and spices. She taught me all about Lebanese cooking and how to use the traditional Lebanese spices for huge flavor. My Nana Lulu was the one who taught me about the importance of simplicity and great ingredients in cooking. Her dishes were never super fancy but that was the beauty of them.
2. What's your favorite Lebanese dish? How is Lebanese cuisine different from Italian cuisine?
Oh my goodness, it's hard to pick one. I'd have to pick falafel I guess if I had to choose! I love the texture and flavor of them so much.
Lebanese food and Italian food actually have their Mediterranean roots in common when you get right down to it. Where they differ is in the use of herbs and spices, and some of the cooking methods. You also don't really find pasta in Lebanese food.
3. How was it like working for The Chef’s Connection? What was your favorite interview?
The Chef's Connection was life changing. It was my first real taste of food writing and I had the opportunity to interview so many incredible culinary personalities like Ron Ben-Isreal, Justin Warner and Joe Murphy. I hope none of them get offended though when I say my favorite interview would have to be with Dominique Ansel. He is a brilliant and fascinating man and I loved learning about how he got to where he is. He also invented one of the tastiest pastries I have ever tasted in my life. The cronut will never go out of style for me!
4. What are your three favorite Mediterranean ingredients?
5. What is the one dish you've made that you're proudest of?
I have a little secret. I enjoy making pastry sometimes even more than savory food. The dish I am the proudest of is actually my chocolate chambord cannoli. They came out better than I could have ever hoped and I was so excited about serving them to my family and friends at a party. The homemade shells had a great depth of flavor by enhancing the chocolate with the chambord, and the filling was such a luscious mixture of ricotta, mascarpone, vanilla, spices and chocolate chips.
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