Cooks at Home: Ruth Lando
Ask Ruth Lando about her culinary roots and she will tell you about her Bubbe—the quintessential Jewish cook who perfected tissue-thin blintzes and authentic chicken soup. Inspired by the family matriarch and her signature Ashkenazi cuisine, as a young girl Lando developed a similar flare for flavor, which she eventually passed onto her children.
“Growing up, I developed a total fixation on food, restaurants, eating, exploring cuisines of the world, and experimentation in the kitchen,” Lando says. “It’s an obsession that feeds my imagination every single day.”
This passion is evident in Lando’s many vocations, from freelance writing to working as the director of communications and marketing for the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM). She is currently helping grow the University’s College of Hospitality & Technology Leadership, where students are learning how to run the back of the house in restaurants.
At home, though the primary chef in Lando’s partnership is her husband, Michael, cooking skills certainly run in the Lando clan. Children Max and Rebecca became known for pioneering the popular weekly YouTube series “Working Class Foodies” in 2009. The concept even led to the publishing of The Working Class Foodies Cookbook: 100 Delicious Seasonal and Organic Recipes for Under $8 Per Person (Gotham, 2013).
“Our children learned at a very early age that everything was game at our table and they had to take a ‘no thank you taste’ of everything put in front of them. As a result, they developed adventurous and experimental palates that—when combined with great concern for sustainability, locavore eating and the health of the planet—steered them into very serious foodie status,” Ruth Lando says. “They are the types who will come home to Sarasota (from Los Angeles and Chicago, respectively) and instead of going to the beach, hit the farmers’ market and cook the entire day and evening.”
For Ruth Lando, she could spend her evenings cooking signature dishes like tzimmes (a Jewish stew of short ribs slowly cooked until they fall off the bone, with dried fruits, sweet potatoes, carrots, honey, and spices), traditional latkes (potato pancakes), brisket, noodle pudding, and matzo ball soup.
She is also traveler, a reader, and an author of human interest, interior design, and pop culture features. She writes a monthly interview for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Style magazine that allows her to take subjects to lunch and gather their stories.
“I’ve been flown on a private jet to a sensational meal in South Beach and had some delicious home-cooked fare while doing that job,” Ruth Lando says. “I never know what or where we’re going to eat and that adds to the fun.”
No matter what type of work she is doing, Ruth Lando always finds a way to incorporate her fervor for food, writing, and adventure, and has a delicious time with all three.