Leira got her first taste of Eastern Mediterranean foods while going to the Manhattan School of Music. Needing to supplement her college allowance, she waited tables at the Egyptian restaurant around the corner from her east side apartment. “It was a tiny little place, maybe 10 tables, and the staff was all from Cairo. We certainly had some language and cultural issues to work through, but the food made it easy to understand each other. The ingredients were simple, the spices fresh and pungent. The cook loved to share his techniques with me, and would even make me special dishes that were not on the menu.”
Soon after graduating, Leira took a full time job as the manager of K & C Caterers, a large Glatt Kosher business. “It did not give me much time to audition for the opera, but it did teach me more than I ever wanted to know about running a food business. As a catering business we worked with all kinds of menus, but it was the Mediterranean foods that interested me most. At K & C, we would hire an expert chef of the cuisine we were working with for each event, allowing me to learn from the best of the best in Manhattan. Since many of our events were “high end” I had the chance to explore all kinds of cuisines and techniques. Over and over again I realized that the more complicated the food, the less I liked it. It was the foods made fresh each day, from simple ingredients, with bold flavors that pleased me most. ”
Over the years Leira has had the opportunity to visit Europe and Israel, and has kept her stove and ovens hot with delicious, bountiful meals for family and friends. To supplement her income as a musician and teacher, she has catered hundreds of events and has had a chance to play with all kinds of cuisines. Always excited by “exotic” foods, Leira has explored world flavors and ingredients and is anxious to bring her culinary passion to the Nature’s Serving: World Food, Fast!.
Leira, and her family, are happy to be returning to Humboldt County after 17 years in Santa Rosa. She is excited to reconnect with friends and colleagues, and hopes to see many of them in line for lunch.