About Lesley Stiles Foods"Know Where Your Food Comes From"...This simple mantra is one that Lesley Stiles has lived by for more than 20 years.
A tireless advocate for local, sustainable food sources, her initial passion has blossomed into a thriving career that has resulted in a wide range of programs in the East Bay Community.
Click here to learn more about http://LesleyStilesFoods.comWhile publishing her own cookbook is still a long-term goal, local chef Lesley Stiles has been sharing her recipes through her own annual tradition — a calendar of recipes.Stiles had been writing a produce column when she decided to compile her recipes in a calendar. Now in its ninth year, “The Farmers Market Lover’s Calendar” features 12 of Stiles’ original recipes she had cultivated through years of being a chef and caterer using only local foods.She makes everything by hand, emphasizing the importance of not only good taste but “the responsibility we all have to not hurt others with our choices, but create work, money, wealth and health through our choices,” she said.The calendar is just one of the milestones Stiles has achieved through her culinary career, which she said began when she was a toddler in the family kitchen.As a teen she worked at the Foster’s Freeze in Walnut Creek “learning how to dip ice cream,” before the Pleasant Hill High graduate majored in hotel and restaurant management at Diablo Valley College. She soon went on to attend California Culinary Academy.“My goal was to become a restaurant owner before I turned 30, and I did,” said Stiles, who bought the Martinez restaurantHaute Stuff when she was 29.Creating recipes has always been a passion. Stiles remembers a “taste class” she took at the culinary academy and learned how various flavors can blend together.In addition to running a catering business, she has also been teaching students in several local school gardens how to plant, grow and eat vegetables. Through cooking demonstrations and team-building cooking classes in the Bay Area, she promotes sustainable, healthy food sources. She also writes the food blog, “Do you know where your food came from?”Each month of the calendar features watercolor illustrations of the produce of the month that accompanies historical information and a recipe that incorporates the fruit or vegetable.Stiles said she’s been grateful for her collaboration with Berkeley artist David Johnson, who painted sketches to accompany her “Produce Pro” column.“I’m not sure if it was Lesley or me who suggested it, but the calendar seemed like a good response to the fan letters we would get,” said Johnson, who’s been painting since he was about 14 years old. He has mostly worked in watercolor, mixed with drawing and collage, since art school in the 1970s.His illustrations of pears are among his favorites because of the shape, color and interesting textures and stems.“Most of the root vegetables have a nice combination of interesting earthy textures with leafy tops. Lettuces and leafy greens such as chard take more time to paint and are a challenge to keep fresh-looking,” he explained.“Having the actual fresh vegetable or fruit to look at, cut open and taste has always worked best. When there are produce items that are repeats from prior seasons, I’ve tried not to copy myself, and to come up with some new composition.”Johnson said he’s often inspired by the beautiful old fruit paintings thatwere done in the 1920s and ’30s for the USDA. What he liked about the produce illustrations is that it required some amount of creativity to present produce in an interesting way, but also keeping it simple and somewhat spontaneous.“The produce paintings have also provided wonderful feedback from readers, some of them artists who have shared enthusiasm for painting,” Johnson said. “I also certainly gained a broader food palate. And I love Lesley’s spirit and lust for life and food, which comes out in her recipes.”The first few years that Johnson and Stiles collaborated on the calendar, they had a table at a couple of the local farmers markets during November and December, and people would comment on the artwork, Johnson said.“There were more than a few very chilly mornings sitting out there, but being part of the market was interesting, such a community scene,” Johnson said.“The calendar has been a labor of love,” said Stiles. “Dave and I enjoy working together. Our mission is to get people to shop, cook and eat healthy, shop their local farmers markets and know where their food comes from. This has been a lifelong goal for me to create healthy eating habits and environmentally sound practices.”
627 Main Street
Martinez, CA 94553-3038 (925) 370-7699
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