Andrea LeTard does not have the typical chef’s history of growing up in the kitchen. This self-taught chef didn’t begin cooking until she was in her late 20s. Her grandmother gifted her a family cookbook full of her favorite recipes she enjoyed as a kid.

“Some of the recipes dated back to the 1800s, and I just found it so fascinating,” Andrea says.

She began working her way through the book and became obsessed with the kitchen. Andrea found herself a natural when it came to food.

“I couldn’t believe I waited so late in life to discover a love and talent for cooking,” she says.

She completely immersed herself in the cooking world, which is all she has thought about for the past seven years. After some success with her written recipes and work as a chef, she quit her career to take a chance on her passion. Andrea’s Cooktales was born.

Although Andrea embraced her love of cooking as an adult, she was a writer long before then. Armed with a masters in journalism, she created a cooking blog. After testing and writing recipes, she knew one day a cookbook would be in the cards.

“When I was younger and even up until college, I always said I wanted to become a published author. I just never would have imagined a cookbook would be the book I’d write,” says Andrea. “The process of researching, testing, retesting, and writing recipes is probably my favorite part of my job as a chef.”

Andrea’s first cookbook, “Andrea’s Cooktales,” will be released this spring. Hers is unique because it has an heirloom journal element to it.

“My hope is that home cooks read it, are inspired by my food stories, and want to make some of their own.”

Andrea encourages readers to write their own family recipes in her cookbook, jot down their favorite food memories and stories, and pass it around to family members.

“I hope this cookbook is an heirloom and passed on for generations to come,” she says. “Also, because I am a self-taught chef, my recipes are relatable and simple to follow.”

Andrea calls her style: Next Generation Southern.

“They’re upscale yet fun, using fine, fresh, and sometimes unique ingredients—always with Southern flair and a story or memory that inspired them.”

Andrea’s Cooktales can be preordered on her website It will be available in May at Novel, Barnes & Noble, and

By Christin Yates

Check out Andrea’s Farmers Market Pasta