Jim Leff

Astoria, NY



It's been a pretty nutsy fourteen (ouch) years...went to grad school at U of Miami (ate Cuban food, played Haitian recording dates, didn't go to class much), along with Andy Middleton. Got out and (after a brief foray as a hypnotist for smoking/weight loss) became a New York jazz musician. Music Resumé. You can download sound samples of my playing.

That went pretty well; I got to travel to like 19 countries--including like 19 trips to Spain-- and did some cool projects (you can hear me doing a growling jungle trombone on the opening theme of Rocko's Modern Life, and I was The Sound Of Panic in the obligatory "Something's gone wrong!!" scene in the final Jacques Cousteau special), but I eventually got kind of burnt, though I'm still playing some gigs (I suspect that I may have been fading ever since being separated from the skanky trombone influence of Tom Nalli).

So I became a restaurant critic and am happily hunting down trippy obscure ethnic grandma kitchens all over the place for various magazines and newspapers (I pretty much know every good restaurant in New York at this point). I also write about beer (I go to all the beer fests, make tasting runs to Belgium, and have like 400 bottles in my apartment--breweries keep sending me samples--and scotches...and tequilas...come over sometime and help me drink all this stuff), but the evil Gennie Cream has yet to show up in my writing. I haven't reproduced, nor do I hanker to (though I've rehearsed with a succession of neurotic girlfriends. My life is actually kind of normal for a New Yorker: here you eat all the time and have neurotic girlfriends). I'm not posting my picture because, as a restaurant critic, I have to guard my anonymity (I can't do television either, or have my photo on my books). I think it's incredibly cool that Jeff's taken the time to put all this together; Rochester was beginning to feel like centuries ago to me, but this site totally brings back the days of doodles and foosball. I'm thinking of doing a similar page for my nursery school class alumni ('Judith--the girl who used to eat library paste--is now a radical feminist author; Butch--the class bully--now works in a nail salon...' etc etc)

Oh, come check out my website, Chowhound.com, with lots of cool info on eating in NYC and around the world. There's a "When Bad Food Happens to Good People" page (on indigestion, obesity, and food poisoning--in my line of work, I get salmonella like four times per year) and message boards like "What's MyCraving" where like-minded chowhounds trade tips.

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