About Leena

I’m a food and culture writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. I've written and tested recipes for Gujarati khaman dhokla and delved into the history of Mexican chamoy. I've profiled immigrant cuisine in the Bay area and created content for food and drink clients. Basically, if it has to do with food and culture, I’m all about it. Beyond writing, I've worked as a professional chef, cooking teacher, public speaker and food tour guide. 

I’m passionate about elevating minority voices in my work, especially women, people of color and immigrants. I geek out over food history and foodways, and I’m constantly inspired by my family’s Indian cuisine and heritage. I make a mean jam, and I'm an obsessive canner. Occasionally, I have to brush frosting out of my hair. 

My bylines include The San Francisco Chronicle (check out my monthly column on Bay area immigrant cuisine), Vice’s Munchies, The Washington Post, Eater, NPR’s The Salt, Food52, and many more. I’ve also contributed to several food encyclopedias, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2nd edition) and The Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues.

I grew up in and around Chicago, so I have a healthy fear of snow and ketchup on a hot dog. I spent a glorious year and a half living in South Australia, and dream about going back daily. I love learning, so I have a B.A. in speech communication with a minor in creative writing from Bradley University, an A.A.S. in culinary arts from Joliet Junior College, and an M.A. in gastronomy from The University of Adelaide/ Le Cordon Bleu. My pronouns are: she/her (cis).

photo by Todd Parsons