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In 5 w/Fey: NBC Today Show Correspondent Turned Celeb Brazilian Chef, Leticia Moreinos Schwartz






by Fey Ugokwe, Esq. @pinkpurseintl

And deep within the borders of so-called Others were young women well older than their years--with flashing sunset smiles, and pretty heads yet full of sociopolitical heavy, that knew they were called to be somewhere else in this rollicking ball of planet. And more forensically still, they already old-soul seemed to know the secrets to the Spice of what we call Life--a savoury acknowledgment of one's own sweet essence; an acceptance of the steaming, lime-and-sugarcane cup of one's sole missions; and a jealous insistence on the balance between flesh and breath, labour and dear leisure, that would make even a Zen master proud. Onesuch is former NBC Today Show correspondent, celebrity chef, writer for magazines such as Saveur and Fine Cooking, spokesperson for industry giant Merck and culinary mainstay Gravy Master (as seen on Cooking Channel), and award-winning Latin cookbook author, Leticia Moreinos Schwartz. Far from her beloved Brazil (the bordermate to my Mum's own former British Guiana, South America), she has tantalized the culinary and literary scenes for almost two decades, and I recently caught up with her whirlwind, that sure breathless that is her every living day: 

Q. What seemed the most insurmountable obstacle you faced at the outset of your journey as a woman in your industry, how did you overcome it—and what advice do you have for the new women rising behind you?

There are so many obstacles! And the minute you jump over one, another one shows up! It’s called life! I would say the first obstacle was embracing the profession of a chef. It took me years to officially recognize and declare my passion for food.  The typical education I received in Brazil was that you grow up to be a lawyer, a dentist, a doctor, an architect, etc. No one wanted or even considered being a chef as a profession.

Once I embraced my new profession, then I discovered that it’s a man’s world! I suffered all kinds of prejudice against being a female…that I wouldn’t be strong enough, tough enough, creative enough to endure the bowels of a kitchen.

Then came another obstacle, that in my opinion was a pivotal moment in my career. I was already living in NY and I couldn’t find any cookbooks about Brazilian cuisine. There was all but one book, written centuries ago. I knew nothing about writing, nonetheless writing in my second language. For too long, I was completely insecure, thinking that I would never be able to write a book in English, because I wasn’t a writer in Portuguese. I credit my writing mentor, Alan Richman, one of the most decorated food writers, with encouraging me to write everyday, no matter what--to write a little every day. Today, the words just fly out of my fingers. And in English!!!! Of course, I make tons of mistakes, grammar, and that’s ok. I am cool with that now. 

For all the women out there reading this, and especially for immigrant women—don’t think any less of yourself because English is not your first language. You can do it anyway! If you have an accent, don’t worry about it. As long as you speak clearly, and communicate well, you can do anything!



Q. What three things have you found to be the most challenging about being a woman, generally, in the 21st century—and where do you desire to see or effect substantial change in the status of women?

Ah this question is very personal to me, because I come from a Latin country and the culture is very different than here in in the US. Or at least in the northeast. It’s hard to generalize the American culture or any culture at all, but especially in the northeast, close to the big cities like NY, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, women's empowerment is all over our faces. But in Brazil and other Latin countries, the culture is still very submissive. Women still make a lot less money than men. I dream about a world where women will never have to succumb to the idiotic macho culture of men. Where women will have equal opportunities in the workforce. Where childcare will not be seen as a career delay for women. When women of all ages and all backgrounds have the same opportunity. 


Q. What self-care and/or work/life balance tips do you have for some of the women of this world?

Success is being healthy and happy. We all think that success is based on money, or power, or material things. It’s not! Success is being healthy! If you are healthy, you have everything! Make time to care of yourself, to exercise, to sleep, to cook a healthy meal. We are so time deprived that the foundations of our health are gone! Cooking is an art in demise, unfortunately, as hard as I fight to promote healthy cooking, I am aware of the takeout fad. And exercise is also big complaint I hear about. Between work and a commute, who has the time to go to the gym? Well, can you go on the weekends? If you start on the weekends, and then extend to one of two days a week, then you already have 4 days in the week. That’s good! Start. Just start. Then, you keep going and you increase slowly. But the most important thing is to start. 




Q. What New Year’s Resolution have you already faithfully fulfilled, to date of this summer month—and which one have you jettisoned, if any, and why? 

I am still working on it! I am a chocoholic. I went one month without eating chocolate, but then I went back. The good news is that I don’t eat a lot of it, but I do eat a tiny piece every day. The other good news is that I was able to switch from milk to dark. So, I don’t feel so guilty anymore. 



Q. What pivotal projects are you working on now, and/or do you have swiftly upcoming—and how can your new fans follow you on your innovative, pink path?

I am coming up with a new cooking show on YouTube about healthy cooking, and a new cookbook, also about healthy cooking!

You can find me all over the internet and social media:
Twitter: @chefleticia

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The Kingdom Ambassadors’ Mega Feast 2018 will be an inspirational, 21st century-cutting edge, spiritual celebration event. Our mission is to continue to usher in a new era of global unity, through keynote mentorship, awards, and entertainment geared…