|Tembi Locke, photo by Jenny Walters|
Tembi Locke is the author of the new book From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home. It focuses on her relationship with her late husband, a chef from Sicily. Locke is an actor and is the creator of TheKitchenWidow.com, an advocacy platform. She lives in Los Angeles.
Q: Why did you decide to write this memoir, and what impact did writing it have on you?
A: There were perhaps two main reasons I decided to write From Scratch. One, I wanted to share what I had learned about love and loss. Two, I wanted to create a kind of love letter to my late husband and his homeland for our daughter. I had reached a point in my life where to not tell the story would have been another kind of grief.
Plus, I am a firm believer that there are times when we need to look back and find meaning into order to go forward. It gives us a better understanding of our present and perhaps our future.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: From Scratch has multiple meanings. On the one hand, it directly connects to the theme of food in the book. But it is also about building an improbable life from scratch and then starting over from scratch.
Q: How did you select the recipes that you include at the end of the book?
A: I always felt the book should have recipes. It seemed like a perfect way to honor Saro, who was a chef.
But also, I was inspired by two books, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Many Beautiful Things, a book of stories and recipes by food writer (and actor) Vincent Schiavelli. I wanted the recipes in From Scratch to accompany the narrative and pull from the delicious foods prepared by the people who passed through my heart.
Q: How would you describe the impact that Sicily has had on your life?
A: Sicily has taught me more than I can ever fully articulate. It has seeped into my bones and enriched my life, teaching me about the constancy of love and place as well as the beauty for our natural world.
Its people and ancient, kaleidoscopic culture have also taught me there is no finish line in grief. That “island of stone,” in all its visual lushness, customs and contradictions, gave me a stillness when I needed it most. It helped me find safe harbor when I was adrift in a sea of loss.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now, I am largely focused on the book launch. But I have a recurring role on the FOX drama Proven Innocent, and recently completed an independent film, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson. And I am toying with a new book idea.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb