Leyla Eraybar, a Denver based foodie, discovered her passion for food from a young age. To this day, Leyla looks back fondly at her 5 year-old self diligently helping her mother prepare meals in the kitchen. At that age, Leyla couldn’t even see the stove-top, but she didn’t let that stop her. Leyla would always begin these cooking sessions with her mom by dragging over a chair from the kitchen table to the stove and would stand on the chair to make sure she didn’t miss any of the culinary action. Ms. Eraybar attributes her life-long love affair with food to these early days in the kitchen that she spent cooking alongside her mother.
Noticing his daughter’s blossoming interest in gastronomy, Leyla’s father regularly took her to nice restaurants growing up. In addition to encouraging Leyla’s appreciation for good food, Mr. Eraybar satisfied his own enjoyment for trying new restaurants and exposing his daughter to a different level of culture, these restaurant outings introduced his daughter to different types of cuisine, and taught her how to behave in elegant dining environments.
Originally hailing from South Carolina, Leyla Eraybar describes the difference in dining experiences. “Denver has a different food scene from the South. In the south you will find a lot of good food from “down home” restaurants. You can find amazing fried chicken, collard greens, and other great soul food. Denver has different cuisine and the restaurants are more posh.”
Part of the excitement of being a foodie for Ms. Eraybar is the process of discovering new places to dine. She subscribes to email newsletters to learn about new restaurants and reads extensive reviews to find out about the food, the wait time, and popularity of prospective eateries. She has a master list of the all the restaurants she wants to try.
It’s not always smooth sailing to find new restaurants. Leyla Eraybar maintains a gluten free and vegetarian diet, which limits her options. One of her favorite places to dine is WaterCourse, which has a 100% vegan menu and many gluten free options. They specialize in simpler cuisine like salads and sandwiches, but have delectable entrees like gluten free Baja Tacos! They even have a gluten free bakery which provides Ms. Eraybar with plenty of delicious dessert options.
Leyla Eraybar has maintained a vegetarian lifestyle for the past 3 years. Although she does it for health reasons, she doesn’t miss eating meat. She was never a fan of chicken, especially if it tasted “too chickeny” or meat prepared in a crockpot. Previously, Ms. Eraybar tried a vegan lifestyle, but it was too difficult to combine with being gluten free. “I went to Detroit for a wedding after being vegan and gluten free for a few months, and I realized unless I opened myself up to eggs and dairy, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything.” Now, while vegetarian, she enjoys fish on occasion out of nutritional necessity and to alleviate her mother’s fear of lack of protein.
Being a self proclaimed foodie doesn’t mean that enjoying amazing food is reserved for restaurants only. Leyla Eraybar enjoys making herself amazing healthy meals at home. One of her staple meals is a simple kale salad, but she also enjoys making asian inspired dishes that fit her gluten free and vegetarian lifestyle. When you open my Leyla Eraybar’s kitchen cabinet you are transformed into other worlds full of exotic smells from the spices. She has tackled making Indian food, Japanese, Thai. And she loves challenging herself by modifying anything from pastries to traditional American meals to fit into her dietary needs. As a foodie, she tries to eat at several new restaurants every month.
Ms. Eraybar enjoys cooking from scratch and hosting friends for meals. She has even tried her hand at gluten free baking and offered some sound advice. “Prepare for the worst.” Gluten free baking can be unpredictable, but Leyla Eraybar has had some consistent success with her challah bread. More delicious airy dough is difficult to give traditional challah braids so Ms. Eraybar uses a challah mold.