A few months ago I came across Leslie Durso’s blog Veggie DreamGirl when I was searching for new vegetarian recipes. I was drawn in by her amazing photography and delicious recipes but instantly noticed that Leslie had a lot more going on for her than just managing an amazing blog. She was making appearances, had her own publicist and seemed as entrenched in the traditional media world as she was in the social media space.
Leslie recently appeared as a guest judge on Cupcake Wars and I was eager to talk to her about her blogging background and experience on the Food Network show. We have talked before about using bloggers in place of celebrities in advertisements but more and more television producers are turning to social media to find talent for their shows.
Leslie’s blogging career sparked up accidentally when, a year and a half ago, Leslie launched her site as an online portfolio. Her beautiful photography and girl-next-door approach to vegetarianism made readers feel instantly welcome. Her site now attracts the eyes of millions of people every month, most of which aren’t entirely vegetarian. While Leslie is vegan she encourages her readers to approach food in new ways and make small manageable changes that makes the idea of being a vegetarian much more approachable.
Leslie says, “Food has always been a huge part of my life. I was hosting a show with Bill Nye the Science Guy and really got the bug for educational television. I love the idea of combining food and health and wellness and television, and there wasn’t any programming out there doing that really well.”
She knew that this topic was something that people would be interested in and started writing for sites like Mother Nature Network and launched her own blog to prove that there is mass interest out there. The next step is launching an educational cooking show to share her message of veggie wellness to a mainstream viewing audience.
Leslie is a sought out public speaker and often makes appearances at local green and lifestyle events and food festivals. This past year, Leslie was mistress of ceremonies for GreenFest LA and will be appearing at GreenFest NYC on Earth Day Weekend.
Leslie loved the experience of being on Cupcake Wars…the creativity, the adrenaline-packed studio and, of course, the attention paid to vegan baking. According to Leslie, the only challenge was “taste testing thirty cupcakes at once.”
We will surely be seeing more of Leslie with the release of her new cookbook. Leslie has teamed up with Bravo’s Top Chef Fabio Viviani to create: Find Your V-Spot: A Collection of Vegan Italian Recipes to Love. Leslie adds, “Collaborating with Fabio has been a blast. Both our worlds are colliding-without his staple meats and cheeses-to bring simple, delicious vegan Italian food to an even broader audience.”