An Expat’s Palate

David Lebovitz worked for 13 years at Alice Water’s legendary Chez Panisse restaurant and was named one of the Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle. His writing has been featured in Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, Cooking Light, Food+Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The New York Times, People, Saveur, Sunset, and USA Today.

In addition to his excellent blog, David’s books include Ready for Dessert, the Perfect Scoop, The Great Book of Chocolate, Room for Desert, and The Sweet Life in Paris which was a finalist in the Best Literary Writing category, in the 2010 Cuisinart/International Association of Culinary Professionals awards.

Laurel Zuckerman: For you, which came first, writing or cooking?

David Lebovitz: Cooking. I started working in restaurants when I was 16 years old. Even though I learned to write a little earlier than that, I was a professional cook before I started writing, like I do now.

LZ: Do they compete for your attention? If so, who wins?

DL: Nowadays it’s kind of a wrestling match between the two, with me in the middle. I prefer to be in the kitchen, but writing takes a lot of concentration and I need to buckle down to do it, so my time it divided. The best part about writing is there’s no dishes to wash. But when I’m cooking, at the end of the day, dinner’s ready. So I’m not sure which wins, but anything that involves less dishes may have the edge.

LZ: What brought you to Paris, and why do you stay?

DL: It’s funny because that’s my number-one asked question by visitors. I used to just stand in the middle of the street, throw my arms up, and say “Look around you!” but I got too many looks from people passing by, wondering what the crazy American with the croissant crumbs on his jacket was doing standing in the middle of the street, twirling around shouting, with his arms in the air.

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