Where does your name come from?
Lentine is my mother’s maiden name. It’s also the name of the little orange-growing village in Sicily where her family is from.
Where are YOU from?
I was born, raised and presently reside in Boulder, Colorado; I’m the literal definition of a Front Range OG.
Did you go to culinary school?
Yes – I’m a classically-trained pastry chef and hold a diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Pastry + Baking Arts.
Were you always interested in baking? Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a chef, but it was always in my cards. I grew up baking with my mother — Christmas cookies were something I looked forward to making all year long. When I was 12 years old, she was diagnosed as celiac and our shared love affair with the Christmas cookies ended. Her experience sparked in my a curiosity about ingredients, food, nutrition and science that feels unending. Food is not vilanous, and delicious food can and ought to be healthful food as well.
There’s a rumor about you and a Rubbermaid box of cookie ingredients under a college dorm bed. What gives?
When I went to college, I didn’t care to have a computer – I wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer instead. I kept a box of oatmeal cookie ingredients under my bed in the dorms. That box made our dorm The Place To Be late night. All through college, I studied to work in international development and make the world a better place; I thought I wanted to be a diplomat or work in clandestine services, wanted to use my brain to make the world a better place through policy. Somewhere along the way my brain figured out that cookies make the world a better place, too.
In your posts, you often reference Italy, Japan, Portland and San Francisco. How come?
I’ve lived each of these places for extended periods of time and those experiences have shaped who I am as a person. I lived in Torino, Italy for 18 months, Okinawa for 4 years, Portland, Oregon for 3 years and San Francisco for 4 years as well.
When did you start your blog?
I started keeping a blog in 2004 when I found myself working in Italy as a journalist; I was alone, unable to communicate in Italian, having a hard time reading the culture around me and my feelings within. I had taken the job as a way of running away from the challenges life was throwing at me, so it was only marginally funny when I – always the athlete – unpacked my running shoes and began using them to escape the cross-cultural babbling that seemed constant in my head. The more I ran, the more of Italy I saw, the more I wanted to see, the more nourished by exploration I became, the more I recognized it was ok (and even exciting!) to be a little bit lost, a little bit scared, a little bit unsure and always very hungry. And, the more I wanted to share my experiences with everyone I knew. The blog allowed me to journal and to let friends + family at home knew I was not just alive, but thriving as I learned to navigate the world – and myself.
Were you an athlete first? Or a chef first?
I was hungry first, racing as a professional athlete in Asia; keeping a 25 hour/week training schedule meant constant hunger so I spent my free time in the kitchen manipulating my favorite recipes to suit my diet and training schedule. Many failed coconut oil disasters later, I recognized that to make the type of pastries and confections I was craving (and felt my body was requiring as an athlete,) I needed to know the science behind baking techniques and ingredients. I enrolled in culinary school, and the rest is baking history!
Have you always been an athlete? How did you get into cycling?
I swam competitively from the ages of 5-18 (credit: grandfather’s genes and baby fat,) and then hopped onto the varsity rowing team with goals of making the 2004 Olympic Trials in at William Smith College (credit: growing up at altitude.) When those dreams were shattered unexpectedly, I took up running (credit: fear of gaining the freshman 15 as a junior.) Running introduced me to my sense of adventure, through marathons, and to the doorstep of intrigue with pushing my own limits in triathlon until finally I bought a time trial bike in 2006 and started racing (credit: boredom and a brain that needed quieting.) I qualified for Kona at my first Ironman and competed voraciously until I recognized that I had lost the sense of adventure that had inspired me to cultivate my athletic prowess in the first place. When I fell out of triathlon, cycling was there to catch me and the people, purpose, places that embrace bikes have been cradling me ever since.
What restaurant do you work in?
I don’t work in a restaurant as a pastry chef, and haven’t for several years. I once worked as a stage at Spago in Los Angeles, and as a stage/sous pastry chef at Providence and loved my work; we offered an 8-course tasting menu comprised of confections, chocolates, ice creams and elaborate composed desserts. But, my schedule didn’t allow for the athletic pursuits that inspired my interest in being a chef in the first place. I credit these experiences for the intricate level of detail I bring to my work, even though the kitchen that I call home is either a food trailer, a support vehicle, a hotel room, and sometimes (joyfully!) my own kitchen.
Some of your posts are written about incredible travel experiences – how did these come to be?
Some time after leaving the culinary world, and before I found a way to express myself as a Chef and recipe developer, I designed custom cycling trips for one of the world’s premier active travel operators. It was an incredible job that allowed me to see the world from a bicycle, and to experience and share once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences with others.
Who takes the photographs for your site?
I do! From 2009 – 2014 I used Nikon DX and Nikon D2x camera to capture images. In 2015 I moved over to a little Sony a500 that I love. It travels internationally much more discreetly, and I love the interchangeable lenses. Sometimes I also use my iPhone….but that’s a secret between us.
You still travel all the time. Where are your favorite places to visit?
I love returning to the places that I’ve lived; Italy and Japan will always be very special places for me. I try to make it back to Tuscany annually and have recently fallen in love with the Italian Dolomites. There really isn’t a place that I haven’t loved visiting; I love smelling, tasting and experiencing new cultures. I love the feeling of stepping off an airplane for the first time in a place I’ve never been.
Where do you get recipe inspiration from?
Inspiration for what I bake and cook comes from everywhere. Most often, it’s whatever I crave when I’m riding/adventuring/traveling. I also am an avid cookbook reader and collector and revisit all of the books I own, depending on what I’m craving/dreaming up.
You’re didn’t study as an exercise physiologist; how did you come to understand sports nutrition?
I credit nearly all of my knowledge about sports and athlete nutrition, the way our athletic bodies work on a grand scale, to my work at Skratch Labs and through collaborations with the founder and my friend Dr. Allen Lim. Allen’s straightforward way of explaining how nutrients impact and biological responses unfold that helped me first to understand the subtleties of my own athletic body, and have since helped me to understand just how the foods we eat improve (or hinder) our performance as beings out to live our best lives. It was an uncanny education, but one that is infinitely valuable to me now, and always.
“Who does your website work?”
(Sheepishly) I do! With a little help from the rockstars at SoloPine, and header media/photo contributions from my friends Andy Bokanev, Kevin Scott Batchelor, and Jered + Ashley Gruber, I pulled together these pages myself. If you find an error, or have a question about design or functionality please email me directly!
Can I reprint your work on my site?
Feel free to take one photo with a link back to the original post. If you’re interested in reprinting additional photos or entire recipes, please use the contact form in the header to inquire about rates.