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Food connects us to our past, to our family, our communities and to each other. As we reflect on the past year, we see how food has brought us strength in the face of adversity. Cooking and sharing a meal is an act of resilience–a promise to gather and share comfort, loss, and joy. Likewise cookbooks empower us to understand and pass on these rituals and recipes. In this conversation with three California-based cookbook authors, we share stories of how diverse food traditions are foundational to our personal and collective histories and are emblematic of how we adapt to a changing world.

Leslie Jonath

Leslie Jonath has over 20 years experience in book publishing and content creation. She is founder of Connected Dots Media, a book and content production company specializing in food and lifestyle projects. Before launching Connected Dots Media, Leslie was a Senior Editor and a Creative Director at Chronicle Books. where she produced The Pleasures of Slow Food. Her most recent book, Feed Your People: Big-Batch Big-hearted Recipe to Gather Around, collected recipes from 65 chefs and cooks. Leslie specializes in projects that bring people together to cook, eat, talk, and connect!

Naz Deravian

Naz Deravian is the author of Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories. She is a Los Angeles-based writer and frequent contributor The New York Times food section.

Her work has been nominated for a James Beard Award and she has contributed to The Washington PostThe AtlanticThe Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Bottom of the Pot was the recipient of The IACP Julia Child First Book Award, presented by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Bottom of the Pot was a Taste Canada Gold Award winner for best regional cookbook, as well as the 2018 Food52 Piglet Award winner.
In 2020 Naz was featured in Padma Lakshmi’s Hulu show, Taste the Nation. She was born in Iran, grew up in Canada and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Andrea Nguyen

Andrea Nguyen is one of the country’s leading voices on Asian cuisine and is living out her childhood dream of being an award-winning writer, editor, teacher, and consultant. Her impactful books—Into the Vietnamese KitchenAsian DumplingsAsian TofuThe Banh Mi HandbookThe Pho Cookbook, and Vietnamese Food Any Day—have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and National Public Radio for their excellence. Andrea is also the winner of the 2020 International Association of Culinary Professionals Member of the Year award. 
She edited Unforgettable, a biography cookbook about culinary icon Paula Wolfert. Andrea has contributed to many publications, including the Washington PostWall Street JournalLucky PeachSaveur, and Cooking Light. Her engaging and knowledgeable writing on cuisine and culture has attracted a loyal and well-deserved readership that actively follows her blog, www.vietworldkitchen.com. Andrea lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Bryant Terry

Bryant Terry is the founder and editor-in-chief of 4 Color Books. An NAACP Image Award Winner and James Beard Award–winning chef and educator, Bryant is renowned for his activism and efforts to create a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system. Bryant is also the author of Afro-Vegan and Vegetable Kingdom. He is currently the chef-in-residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, where he creates programming that celebrates the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Washington Post and on CBS This Morning and NPR’s All Things ConsideredSan Francisco magazine included Bryant among the 11 Smartest People in the Bay Area Food Scene and Fast Company named him one of 9 People Who Are Changing the Future of Food. 

Photos: Naz Deravian © Eric Wolfinger; Andrea Nguyen © Genevieve Piersoni

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