Food blogger Luisa Weiss talks love and recipes in her debut book, ‘My Berlin Kitchen’
If it’s true that we are what we eat, then Luisa Weiss is probably somewhere between New England clam chowder and kohlrouladen, a German cabbage roll.
Having spent her childhood traveling back and forth between her father’s home in Boston, Mass. and her mother’s in Berlin, Germany, the celebrated food blogger always felt somewhat divided. That is, until she found solace in cooking. As she notes in her long-anticipated memoir, “My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes),” “distance means nothing when your kitchen smells like home.”
Officially released this month, the book allows Weiss’ loyal fans—her blog, entitled “The Wednesday Chef,” has an average of 90,000 readers per month—to connect with the author on an even deeper level, as she shares the intimate details of her cross-continental upbringing, her marriage, her decision to ultimately leave New York and move to Berlin, and more.
Local followers will have the additional opportunity to meet Weiss in person when she, her husband, and her newborn baby, Hugo, make a stop at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Thursday, Sept. 27, where she will read from her book, answer questions, and sign copies. (And, yes, there will be tasty samples.)
“I know my readers … even though I obviously don’t,” Weiss says with a laugh, “but I feel like we’ve been having this conversation over the past seven years, and its just so exciting to me that I’m going to get to see their faces.”
Weiss’ culinary journey can be traced all the way back to her high school days, when she would meticulously cut out and collect recipes from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Over time, the habit and her constant globetrotting would evolve into a love of cooking. And in 2005, her ever-growing stack of recipes and desire to experiment with food, gave birth to “The Wednesday Chef.”
“Food sections are traditionally published in newspapers on Wednesdays and because I wanted to structure my blog around the recipes from the newspapers that I tested, I decided to call it The Wednesday Chef,” explains Weiss. “It was a goofy sort of name at first, but it just stuck.”
Seven years later, the blog has grown to encompass some of the most personal aspects of Weiss’ life, with less emphasis on that original pile of clippings.
“When I started blogging, it was really straightforward, I just blogged about what I cooked for dinner and that was it,” Weiss recalls. “It was gradual, I couldn’t help but put bits and pieces of my life into the blog. I would see my readers react so strongly in a positive way that I realized that I felt comfortable sharing and they felt comfortable reading.”
Ever since she made the commitment to open up to her readers, she has built a strong rapport with them. And her intimate writing style and relatable personality have kept fans coming back for more.
“I feel like my readers are really lovely people,” says Weiss. “I never really thought about a huge anonymous mass reading the book, but rather, all these individuals.”
For that reason, after years of divulging bits and pieces of her life to her fans, Weiss decided that she owed it to them to tell the whole story. And so, the idea for “My Berlin Kitchen” was conceived.
On Oct. 24, 2009, Weiss announced on her blog, “I’m moving back to Berlin and I’m writing a book, about Berlin, about my life, about cooking and home and family and love, about being divided and finding a way back to being whole again, about a city and its recipes, and a girl who’s learning how to find her way.”
Just as food is tied to memories of people and places for Weiss, a carefully selected recipe follows each chapter of her book. Readers will delight in the helpful and encouraging commentary that accompanies each exclusive recipe not found on her blog, including Weiss’ favorites, Ragù alla Bolognese (Beef Ragù), Tomato Bread Soup, and Pflaumenkuchen (Yeasted Plum Cake).
A home cook herself, it’s no surprise that Weiss’ blog and memoir are dedicated to longtime and budding home cooks, but also to those who need a push to pursue their dreams.
“Following your heart is always more important than following a job or a relationship with someone that on paper is right, but in your gut isn’t,” she says, “[It’s about] not being afraid of changing course, even when you think it’s too late, because it’s never too late.”
Luisa Weiss will read from “My Berlin Kitchen,” answer questions, and sign copies at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. For more info, call 423-0900.
Author photo credit Max Beuchel