Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Kate Lebo

July 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I am very excited to share the next Author for my project. I was very fortunate to work with Kate for this project because of her fun style and her passion to work with delicious, natural ingredients. In addition to being a culinary author, Kate splits her time teaching at the Atrium Kitchen located inside the iconic Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. With Kate's help I was able to get in touch with the Events and Programs Manager at the market to schedule a photo session at the kitchen. The result turned out to be as sweet as pie! 

What came first, the writing or the cooking?
The writing. I didn’t learn to cook until I had to. 
What was your dinner table like growing up as a child? Did you have a lot of experience cooking with your parents? 
Well, I can tell you that the actual table is still in my parents’ dining room, that it still has the protective covering on it to keep the wood nice, which means this piece of furniture my family has gathered around for three and half decades still has the most pristine top you could imagine—not that you’ll ever see it—and handsomely scarred legs. My dad is a woodworker, so anything in the house that’s made of wood has to be solid and beautiful, even if he didn’t make it.
I don’t remember cooking much when I lived at home. My parents let me off the hook as long as I helped clean up the table afterward. Then I did that thing where you move into your first apartment and realize, “Shit! I don’t know how to feed myself!” A realization that was fortunately followed up by,  “Wow, cooking makes me feel like a badass!” I would call home a lot to ask my dad for recipes, and I discovered that food was a language we could share. He and my brother had football. Now he and I had barbecue chicken and grilled salmon and mushroom soup. 
My mom has always been interested in nutrition and healthy eating. She makes amazing salads. That sounds banal, but trust me, it’s not. It’s easy to make salad but hard to make people care about salad. For a long time I wasn’t interested in any recipe unless it had all four food groups in it. That’s her influence. I eat my vegetables. Then I eat my pie.
You have this unapologetic yet charming way of expressing yourself through cooking, essays, and poems. Was that something that just came natural or did you develop this confidence overtime?
Thanks! You know, this is a hard question for me to answer because it’s asking me to break down the person I construct when it’s time to perform. She’s the person who teaches, talks to a camera, says something in a microphone. The person on the page is different, but related. They’re both me, of course. I know that the in-person person is made in part by my hearing problems. I have a tendency to look people directly in the eye and smile a lot to try to relieve the intensity of that gaze. Looking directly at people helps me hear what they’re saying. Maybe that’s what feels unapologetic. 
Unapologetic is an interesting description. What should I be not-apologizing for?
You briefly talked about how you are making a transition in your work and you don't want to focus on pie. Can you elaborate on that?
Not yet! But I can tell you something that contradicts what I said—in fall 2017, Sasquatch Books is going to release an anthology of pieces from the Pie & Whiskey reading I host with Sam Ligon. Pie’s not quite through with me yet.
In addition writing culinary cookbooks, you write essays and poetry that are have a lot of self reflection and pop culture observance . Do you write these more for yourself? 
I’m writing these like I’d write anything—because there’s something bugging me about something I’m attracted to.
Are you a writer who works better in isolation or in the company of others? 
I work alone and prefer to trade work with one person rather than belong to a writing group or workshop. But I need to feel connected to a community or I get pretty miserable, so it’s a balance of hiding and participating, writing on my own and collaborating with a group to make an event or program happen.
My last question is, what do you love about teaching at the Atrium Kitchen in the Pike Place Market? 
The Pike Place Market is amazing for all the reasons you’d expect, but are still surprised by when you visit. It’s full of people—so many people from so many places doing so many things!  One Sunday when I was loading in my baking equipment, I saw a couple get engaged in the plaza. Every Saturday when I teach a guy with a parrot hangs out in the Atrium, and the parrot makes these beautiful spooky sounds all afternoon. People come in during the middle of class to ask what we’re doing, can they have some pie, and I love that too, how this is a place where so much is happening, people don’t think to be shy about interrupting. Though please—not too many interruptions. To be able to make food with enthusiastic, cool people in a place that’s this alive is incredibly awesome. Even though I’m only there once a quarter, I still feel like I’m participating in the culinary history of the city.
To learn more about Kate Lebo and Pie School:
You can also find Kate on tumbler, twitter: @mizkatelebo and Goodreads! 
To find out more information about the Atrium Kitchen at the Pike Place Market:
I really want to thank Debra Benn, Event Program Manager at the Pike Place Market for allowing me to shoot in the Atrium Kitchen. Thank you to my good friend and assistant for this shoot, April Staso and last but not least, Kate Lebo for her wonderful participation.  
Extra bonus: Behind the scene shots of my shoot with Kate Lebo...(photos by April Staso)


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