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5 Questions with Chef Leslie Durso

BY Lydia Martin | May 3, 2018 | Feature Features

Here, the charming chef dishes on everything from her fave places for vegan food in L.A. to a new cooking school collab with PLANTLAB.
Leslie Durso

How did you become a chef?
After a stint as an actress on a soap opera and appearing as Leslie the Lab Girl on Bill Nye the Science Guy, I decided it was time to take my love for food and entertaining and turn it into a career. There was no vegan culinary school at the time, so, instead, I traveled the country and the world, learning from anyone who would teach me. I continue to travel, learn and create dishes from my experiences.

Any favorite recipes?
There are so many recipes to love, but my favorite would be a plant-based version of my great grandmother’s ravioli. It was one of the first things I ever learned to make with her, and my heart still fills with joy every time I make it.

What are some of the challenges with vegan cooking?
As for cooking, there are no challenges! There are over 20,000 edible plants on Earth, so the possibilities are endless! The exciting part is taking those plants and turning them into something truly special.

Tell us a little about the cooking school.
I chose to partner with PLANTLAB because it was founded with the intention of promoting conscious, sustainable living through top-tier culinary and wellness education. I love that they have a strong online platform, where I have been able to film courses available for chefs and home cooks around the world. A combination of classical culinary training and modern techniques, with integrated nutrition education, ensures our alumni feel empowered to pursue their professional goals and share their knowledge with their community.

What are some of your favorite places for vegan food in L.A.?
Lucky for us L.A. residents, plant-based cuisine is everywhere you look. For happy hour, you can find me at Gracias Madre chowing on nachos and margaritas. I love the creative and delicious sushi at Shojin. Craig’s is the place for a great crowd and outstanding cashew ice cream made in-house. Felix in Venice is quickly becoming my favorite for homemade pasta. Cinnaholic, where you can build your own cinnamon rolls, is truly heaven on Earth, and, of course, Donut Friend has the best donuts in L.A.!

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