Marlena Spieler (1949 – 2023) was born and grew up in California, a culinarily multicultural region even then. She delighted in Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, Japanese food, Portuguese food, as well as her grandmothers Russian-Jewish fare and the fresh fruits and vegetables of her grandfather's organic garden.
As an art student she spent a year in Israel and another year travelling around Europe and living in Greece; the result was her first book, Naturally Good, hand written and self-illustrated. Way ahead of its time.
Giving up art for cooking, book after book followed: Hot & Spicy was the first book dedicated to chile dishes from all over the world; From Pantry to Table explained our new ingredients and was nominated for a James Beard. Her book about Paris is still beautiful, and still delicious:a fabulous topic to write about and cook from. Her Jewish Heritage Cookbook won a Gourmand Cookbook Award, not just as the year it was published, but also as one of the best all time books of the last twenty years of Gourmand Awards. Olive oil, Pasta, California Vegetarian Food, 30 minute Italian, Grilled Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, Yummy Potatoes, Vegetarian Bistro, Mediterranean Food.
A freelance food writer she regularily contributed to Bon Appetit, San Francisco Chronicle, and New York Times. Based in the UK she has contributed to most publications at one time or another, as well as a former regular on BBC Radio 4 (food topics). For over ten years Marlena wrote a travel and food column for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Roving Feast. It too was nominated for a James Beard Award as well as winning numerous Association of Food Journalists awards.
Until her death in 2023, she lived in Hampshire, UK, with her husband, fabulous kitty Madeleine, and two Jack Russells: Jake and Lambchop.