“The Wednesday Chef,” Luisa Weiss is smitten with Seattle

“The Wednesday Chef,” Luisa Weiss is smitten with Seattle
Photo by Max Beuchel

Food writer Luisa Weiss was hungry, so she decided to do something about it.

After breaking off an engagement nearly a decade ago, she started a blog based on what she loves most - food. In 2009, Weiss took the plunge and moved from New York back to her childhood home in West Berlin. A few short years later, Weiss cultivated international notoriety for her award-winning blog, The Wednesday Chef and found love with her husband (fellow Berliner), Max.

This month, Weiss celebrates the release of her first book, “My Berlin Kitchen, A love Story (with recipes),” which is based on the writings from her blog. The book offers a peek at the huge collection of recipes she had been collecting over the years and a few personal memories from her varied and colorful life.

Weiss will be in town tonight for a discussion and book signing, hosted by local food writer Tara Austen Weaver, at the U-District University Bookstore at 7 p.m. We caught up with Weiss while she prepped for her book tour event.

You’re an ink-and-paper published author now! How does it feel?
It’s crazy. It’s the most wonderful and surreal experience to see my name of the cover of the book in bookstore. In the past, I worked as a cookbook editor in Paris and New York, so to have my book in my hands is amazing feeling. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so this has really been an amazing experience.

What’s your favorite part of the book writing experience?
I’ve found it very difficult to write book. Keeping a blog relatively easy because you’re not as solitary; as soon as you write a post, you immediately have feedback. Writing a book, I felt isolated and lonely. Those moments of self-doubt kept creeping up.
I feel very lucky. The past couple years have been very amazing. My readers are very supportive and I have a really special relationship with them. Having them cheering me along as I take final literary lap is amazing.

You’ve had an incredible journey over the last decade – breaking off and engagement, moving across the world, finding love and building a family. And you’ve done it in front of a large audience (e.g. blog readers). What it like to put yourself out there in such a public way?
To be honest, it took me a while to get to that point. When I started the blog, I started without much personal stuff on there- just cooking. But I’ve found that food and life are really wrapped up in each other. It was a gradual process to introduce the more personal stuff in my blog. It was a long, but trustworthy process. My readers are an important part of my life. I feel like they are this great anonymous group of people who want the best for me.
I feel the same way when I read other
blogs. You get invested in their lives. You feel for them. You get sad with them, happy with them.

From “Preschool Gems” to “Orangette,” bloggers have become literary forces to be reckoned with. Why have these stories become so popular with more traditional ink-and-paper readers?
In my genre, I think that food is something that every person can identify with. There are so many emotional feelings associated with food. You associate memories and certain people, and different moments with life with food. Even if you’re not cook, you still have a gut reaction when it comes to food. That’s why I think food memoirs are so appealing to such a large group of people. There’s something voyeuristic about reading others lives through food. Food is always a common currency and a way to connect with people.

The food on your blog always looks amazing!! I’m curious, if you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ohhh.. that’s a hard one (laughs). I think it would be tomato salad. I’m absolutely obsessed with tomatoes, especially ones from Seattle.

Oh, you are so flattering to us Seattleites! Have you checked out any local restaurants during your trip?
Absolutely! Delancey was number one of list. My husband and I have been friends with Brandon (Pettit) and Molly (Wizenberg) for years. I’ve been so excited to see them have success with their restaurant. My husband and I love pizza, so that was amazing. We went to Macrina for sandwiches. We had the Daily Dozen for breakfast. The food offerings in Seattle are so wide and varied. There is just such an embarrassment of riches here.

What item do you LEAST like to cook/prepare?
I rarely cook meat. I find it so difficult - proper meat roasting, tenderloin, steaks, etc. I leave that up to the experts. Oh, and fava beans. Such a nightmare. Not worth the effort.

What inspires you as a cook and as a writer?
Other peoples writing and cooking inspires me. I’m a reader first and foremost. I could sit and read cookbooks until the cows come home. Other writing inspires me to be creative. When others write about food, my stomach growls and I get hungry.


Cover photo credit Viking (Penguin Group USA)