Cara De Silva is an award-winning journalist, and James Beard Award Nominee, who focuses on a broad range of subjects that include food and food history; culture; ethnicity; New York City; Italy (especially Venice); and fusion. For over a decade, she was a writer for Newsday/New York Newsday, where her specialty was ethnic New York and her food-and-culture column, "Flavor of the Neighborhood," was a popular feature. While there she won First Prize for Food Feature Writing in the United States from the Association of Food Journalists. In addition to stories produced for her beat at New York Newsday, Cara also wrote personal essays and general features.
One of the latter involved a Holocaust manuscript with a singular story. After the appearance of the article, Cara, working as an independent scholar, wrote the extensive introduction to, edited, and brought the book version to fruition. Called In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin, it became one of the New York Times Book Review's most noteworthy books of the year, and also a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller. A poignant "memoir" in food, this haunting work, consists in large part of painfully flawed recipes set down by starving women in a Czechoslovakian concentration camp. Through it, a largely unknown genre of Holocaust Literature, the "dream" cookbook, was brought to the attention of a startled world.
Other work by Cara can be found in the forthcoming volumes Rumba Under Fire: The Arts of Survival from West Point to Delhi (Punctum Books, 2015); Savoring Gotham (Oxford, 2105) for which she was also advisory editor; and A Norton Anthology of Food Writing (W.W.Norton & Co, Inc, 2015). An article on the history of the sugar trade in Venice appears in The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (Oxford, 2014). She is also responsible for the extensive introduction to Gastropolis: New York at Table (Columbia University Press, 2008). Further work has been published in A Slice of Life: Contemporary Writers on Food, an anthology of writings by well-known novelists, poets, food writers, and chefs (Overlook, 2003; Duckworth, London, 2004); and in Provence: The Collected Traveler: An Inspired Anthology & Travel Resource by Barrie Kerper. (Fodors, 2001). Likewise, she is a contributor to Food and Judaism: Studies in Jewish Civilization 15 (Creighton University Press, 2004).
In addition to Newsday/New York Newsday, her articles have been published by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Gastronomica; Gourmet Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, Eating Well, Martha Stewart Living, Cuisine, and Diversion magazines.
As an expert editor, Cara works on scholarly books. As a teacher, she has taught courses both in food and culture, and in writing, at the City University of New York. She is also a consultant for academic and other institutions, both here (among them the American Museum of Natural History), and abroad. Cara was on the Advisory board of the PBS series, The Meaning of Food , and the Editorial Board of the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, first published in the fall of 2004 by Oxford University Press and released in a second edition. In 2001, she was a member of the Advisory Board for that year's Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.
As a professional researcher, Cara works for herself and others on a variety of subjects, both scholarly and popular.
Beyond writing, editing, and research, which are ongoing, Cara is both an academic and a professional speaker. A frequent presenter at conferences, fundraisers, and seminars, she has spoken at Drew University's Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study giving the 12th annual lecture on Gender and Genocide; at the University of Wisconsin conference, “Eating, Cooking, Culture: The Politics and History of Food,” and also at Ca’Foscari, the University of Venice, on her book, In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin." In addition, she has been the keynote speaker at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery at Oxford University; the Charles Phelps Taft lecturer at the University of Cincinnati; keynote speaker at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at Greenbrier; featured speaker at the Second Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Food and Culture at Boston University; lecturer for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; the UJA-Federation; the American Institute of Wine & Food; the Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust; and the Food Studies Program at New York University.
She has also lectured at New York's venerable National Arts Club on Charles Dickens and food history during the Victorian period. And has spoken, too, at The Museum of Jewish Heritage on the subject of Italian Jews, Italian Jewish food and foodways, and Italian Jewish culture, a longstanding interest. (Currently, she is researching the history of the Venetian Ghetto. The 500th anniversary of its founding is to be commemorated in 2016.)
Cara has been featured on local, national, and international television and radio shows both here and abroad, among them "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" (PBS), "The Morning Show" (CNN), "All Things Considered" (NPR), the "Food Network," and "The Voice of America."
She is consultant to several forthcoming conferences and publications.
Her speaking focus has recently been expanded to: "War and the Food of Dreams," which emerges from the broadening of her work on In Memory's Kitchen to include POW Camps, World War I, the Civil War, starvation studies, and more.
A current writing project is a scholarly novel about 16th century Venice, a city she has studied for years, both here and in Italy. For information, see the Facebook page for Venice Reflected. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Cara-De-Silva-Venice-Reflected/1568361176726205