Leila grew up with a Lebanese father and an Irish mother in a small town in Massachusetts around a large oak dinner table full of love and good food. After graduating from Emory University, Leila began working in oncology research with terminal cancer patients. All of her patients had the same regret: “I wish I had lived my life according to myself, my interests, passions, and desires; that I had not cared about what anyone else thought of me; and that I had not wasted a precious second on needless worries.” After two years of hearing this over and over again, Leila began to look at her life quite differently. It was around this time that she met Anthony and decided to pursue a life more aligned with her interests: photography, food, people and travel. She is now the co-founder of The Recipe Hunters, responsible for filming, video editing, recipe writing and website design.
The Recipe Hunters travel around the world researching and documenting the traditional recipes and stories of locals who practice and maintain their culinary heritage, from soil to fork (or chopstick, or pita bread). Using food as their medium, they overcome barriers of religion, race, creed, and ethnicity to provide their audience with a natural, healthy and unique perspective on the ways that people live and eat in homes around the world.
During their time abroad, The Recipe Hunters volunteer on homesteads and small-scale, organic farms where they learn about the terroir and the region’s seasonal produce. They have harvested grapes on the Ribeira Sacra, made mozzarella in a farm whose owners play Mozart to their water buffalo, searched for percebes along the rocky coast of Galicia, fertilized date trees in an oasis with an ancient civilization of people, baked bread for a village with a great grandmother in Cyprus, harvested olives to make olive oil in Cyprus and Southern Italy, cultivated cabbage to make kimchi with grandmothers in Korea, made homemade tofu in Vietnam, and maqluba in Palestine.
Each and every volunteer experience is an opportunity to give back to the community where they are living and to partake in the day-to-day lifestyle of that culture. The Recipe Hunters work under the umbrella of the Culinary Heritage Corporation, a non-profit whose mission is to promote cultural pluralism and bring people together through food. In addition to the media produced, The Recipe Hunters hold cooking classes, pop-up dinners, assemblies, and interactive lectures where they share their experiences and knowledge.