As the only child of a single parent family, Chef Kleiman learned to cook at her mother’s side, until she was preparing meals on her own by the age of nine. Evan later combined cooking and entrepreneurship, selling her own cookies in high school and working as a caterer at college. Still, Evan had decided to pursue a film career and she proceeded with that goal in mind.
During her course of study in Italian Literature and Film, Evan spent as much time in Italy as her schedule would allow. Parallel to pursuing academic studies, her fascination with the traditional cooking methods and culture of the Italian kitchen led her to the homes and trattorie of Italian women. These travels, over thirty years, provide Evan with the basis for her cooking philosophy.
After graduating Magna cum Laude in her field from UCLA, Evan entered the University’s graduate school for Arts Management and worked a number of film related jobs.
To most young film students these jobs would have been opportunities of a lifetime, but Evan realized that her time spent cooking and catering pleased her most. She quit her job to join Mangia restaurant as night chef and kitchen manager. She worked over 100 hours in her first week and knew that she had finally found her niche. She quickly made a name for herself and was recruited by Verdi Ristorante di Musica in Santa Monica to be its executive chef.
After a year at Verdi, Evan decided to pursue a longtime dream of writing her own cookbook. She contacted Viana LaPlace, a former colleague from her days at Mangia, and set out to find an agent for the newly formed writing duo.
Cucina Fresca, Evan’s first cookbook, was published by Harper & Row in 1983 and launched a new side to Evan’s career. Subsequent best-selling books published by William Morrow include Pasta Fresca, published in 1988 and Cucina Rustica in 1990. Cucina del Mare, her first solo effort published in 1993 was given a rave review in the February 1995 issue of Gourmet Magazine. Angeli: Pizza, Pasta and Panini was released in June 1997 by William Morrow Publishers.
Although busy catering and writing, Evan still felt a desire to do more, and the decision to create an Italian restaurant was a natural one given Evan’s Italian cooking background.
Evan felt there was a need for a “modern family restaurant,” a restaurant that would serve light and simple food that was both stylish and affordable. In December of 1984, she opened Angeli Caffe, a hip Italian restaurant on Melrose Avenue designed to serve “simple rustic food in a modern environment,” according to Evan. Probably no restaurant concept has been so widely copied in LA as the original Angeli Caffe.
Evan is host of the weekly radio food show “Good Food” which is heard each Saturday morning at 11am on KCRW 89.9fm. KCRW is one of the leading NPR stations in America. She was the founder of the original Slow Food chapter in Los Angeles and ran it for 8 years. Evan enjoyed her time on the Board of See-LA the non-profit which runs the Hollywood Farmers Market, but now she is serving on the Stewardship Council of Roots of Change, an organization creating linkages to attain a sustainable food system in California by 2030. In her free time (hah!) Evan continues to write. She also holds special tastings and teaches at the restaurant and at local schools. To learn more about Evan check out her website.