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Lita-Luise began learning to cook at age twelve under the direction of her Italian mother and grandmother, and her father who loved to bake. At eighteen she began to work in her home town of San Diego, as a waitress, food preparer, and a line cook. At twenty-three she received an A.S. in Food Service Management, with direct training under Chef Hilfiger, executive chef of Black Angus Continental Foods. Her final was managing a Bi-Centennial dinner for 200 people. Afterward, she worked in many restaurants, getting trained in European Continental, French, and vegetarian cuisine. For several years she worked for one of San Diego’s largest catering company’s, Tony Kopas & Associates. One of her favorite jobs was working as a chef for Piret’s French Bistro in Hillcrest, and then as a garnishee and sous chef at the Morgan Run Resort & Club in Rancho Santa Fe. She also ran her own catering business, called Great Goodness! In 2015, she published The Thelemic Cookbook: Cooking with Correspondences.
Lita-Luise began learning to cook from her mother and grandmother at age twelve. Her mother was a first generation Italian, so that country’s food was her first love. Her father had been a baker in the Merchant Marines, so the smell of baked bread was a familiar aroma in their San Diego kitchen. Her father didn’t work from a written recipe, so she had to observe, ask questions, and then write down what he was doing. Over the years, she got in the habit of noting and testing recipes for herself in this same manner.
At sixteen, Lita began working for an assortment of restaurants around San Diego as a hostess and waitress, beginning with Coco’s in La Mesa. It gave her a good idea of how the front of a restaurant works. After high school, she moved to Idaho and got a job working for the Cookhouse Restaurant, owned by the Sizzler Corporation. She learned food prep, then worked as a line cook, and ended up as an assistant manager. This further sparked her interest in the culinary industry, which brought her back to San Diego, where she worked for a long list of restaurants there: the Iron Horse Restaurant in La Mesa, Future Foods in Pacific Beach- San Diego’s first fast food, health food, drive-through eatery, Canteen Food Services for Teledyn Technologies, the Top Shelf Restaurant in La Mesa, San Diego’s Hilton Inn, and then at the Town and Country Hotel.
Lita went back to school and received an Associate of Science in Food Service Management at Grossmont College. She was trained in American and Continental preparation, under Chef Raymond Hilfiger, the executive chef of Black Angus Continental Foods. Her final project was the 1976 Fourth of July Bicentennial dinner for 200. With a move to San Diego’s north county her training continued with French cuisine, working as a prep and sous chef at La Mediteraneé Restaurant. Her knowledge increased with French sauce bases, she garnered some sublime French recipes, and learned what the French palate demanded. The head chef was strict, but instilled in her the desire for perfection with every bite.
In 1978 she found a restaurant that served food more in tune to the way she was eating, which was primarily vegetarian, at The Gatekeeper Restaurant. Located in Del Mar, it was unique due to it being one of the first large, upscale vegetarian restaurants in the county. She was introduced to the use of directing spiritual blessing into the food while preparing and cooking it. The magic of food came to life for her in that kitchen.
In 1980, Lita got a job working as a chef and kitchen manager for a French bistro called Piret’s, in San Diego’s Mission Hills. It offered the added advantage of several deli cases full of French imported foods and shelves of imported French wine that she took advantage of to be innovative and create specialties. At the same time, she began her own catering company, called Great Goodness! Although there were some chicken and fish offerings on her menu, it primarily consisted of vegetarian foods with vegetable sauce bases. The catering work ranged from two to 200 guests for private and corporate events. The income was good with two full time jobs, but after three years she needed a break.
Lita then travelled with her partner through western Europe and northern Africa for eighteen months, exploring the fresh food markets, learning about unusual foods, collecting recipes, and discovering new styles of cooking and food specialties in each country. When Lita returned to the U.S., she worked for one of San Diego’s top catering businesses, Tony Kopas & Associates, as a catering sales representative and chef. She also attended the California School of Herbal Studies to learn more about herbs specifically, and took a Nutrition and Wellness course to better understand the relationship of food with wellness.
Sensing that a holistic approach to health with the body through food and the mind were an upcoming trend, she went back to school and got a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Education, from the University for Humanistic Studies in Del Mar. While in school, she worked as a Diet Counselor for The Diet Center, and as a Garnishee Chef and then Sous Chef at the Morgan Run Resort & Club in Rancho Santa Fe. She also attended the School for Healing Arts and became a certified clinical Hypno-therapist, and took additional training as a practitioner in Neuro-Linguistics. Both of which, transitioned her into opening her own business, The Balance Within, counseling clients on the balance of body and mind.
In 1999, Lita joined a world-wide fraternal organization dedicated to supporting personal freedoms. As master of her local body, her cooking experience came in handy, because she found herself catering for just about every event that the local organization produced. This continued for fourteen years, by which time, she had culled from her many years as a chef and caterer, hundreds of recipes. With the organization having many special days throughout the year called “feast” days, she saw a need to put a cookbook together. Over a span of two years, Lita drew on her knowledge of foods, magic, and herbs, along with her many experiences of international foods, to write and publish in 2015, The Thelemic Cookbook: Cooking with Correspondences. Lita continues to create feast foods, prepares special dinners for friends and family, and perpetually delights her husband with international gourmet meals.