Links to The Malibu Times Articles on ME!

Links to The Malibu Times Articles on ME!

The past few months have been some of the most amazing in my life. I have learned a lot, and it has been an amazingly rewarding experience to be a part of people’s lives. There has been an outpour of support from people all around the world through Malibu Sunshine, Facebook, Twitter, and even people stopping me on the street. I truly appreciate all of the kind words and gestures, and thanks to all of you for reaching out.

Here’s some links to articles about me in The Malibu Times. Check me out!

Leslie Gilliams: Almost a Master – October 2014

Leslie Gilliams: Malibu’s Masterchef – June 2014

All About Brine

All About Brine

Have you ever had a piece of turkey or chicken that was bland or dry? So much so that is like chewing on a hockey puck? That’s because that home cook didn’t know about brine.

Brine, in its simplest form, is a solution of salt and water. Have you ever noticed that meat shrinks when you cook it? That’s because it’s losing moisture. When you brine protein, the meat soaks up that extra moisture (which also makes this a great way to flavor your meat, kind of like a marinade). Adding that moisture ensures that you will not lose as much of the natural moisture during the cooking process. It’s all very scientific and has to do with proteins and fibers and binding – I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but trust me THIS WORKS!

How long you brine a protein depends on its size. For example a chicken can brine for up to six hours whereas a turkey will take closer to 24 hours. Some other protein to try this on includes fish, shrimp, and pork, which take even less time to brine. The solution should cover the whole of the meat, and it should be kept refrigerated the entire time it is brining (I brine my Turkeys in a clean garbage bag, due to its size, and flip it every eight hours to ensure even absorption – just make sure it’s not one of those scented bags).

Salt and water are the two essential ingredients in any brine. You can also add dried herbs, whole peppercorns, vinegar, sugar, chicken broth, etc. Although the amount of salt being added to every brine seems frightening, properly brined met should NOT taste salty. I have included a simple chicken brine recipe below. Happy brining!


Chicken Brine Recipe


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves individually smashed with peel left on
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorn
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • ¼ cup of light brown sugar
  • Juice and zest of two lemons


Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir and keep boiling until the salt dissolves (2 minutes). Remove from heat, and allow to thoroughly cool. Once cooled down, add some ice, pour over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for up to six hours (no less than 4 hours). Before cooking, rinse the chicken thoroughly with cold water, discard brine, and pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Catching Up with Leslie

Catching Up with Leslie

I consider myself a Renaissance man. I take care of my wife, my children, and our house.  I am the newest breed of man – the man that supports the dreams of his partner. In order to understand me, it is important to explain where I have been.

Fan Art by Instagram user @thenatrussell

Fan Art by Instagram user @thenatrussell

Like I said throughout the entirety of this season of FOX’s, “Masterchef,” I am 56 years old! I was born in Manhattan, and I have seven brothers and three sisters. My mother was a nun before she married my father, and I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. My parents were strict, and feeding 11 young, hungry mouths is no easy task. In my house, there were only two legs on a chicken, and if you weren’t there first, you didn’t get any. There was no such thing as having a second helping – if you snooze, you lose.

Due to hard times, at a young age, I spent about ten years in a Catholic orphanage with several of my siblings. There was enough food for everyone, and although the food was better than I was used to getting at home, I definitely wouldn’t call it “restaurant quality.” Actually, I didn’t even know what a restaurant was. My no-nonsense upbringing inspired me to work hard. I have never lived outside of my means. I saved every penny I ever made, and I rarely splurged.

Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy Home for Children

Growing up the way that I did inspired me to learn to cook for myself – I never wanted to eat unappetizing food again. It also didn’t hurt in the dating department. That’s when I met Paula.

Paula was beautiful, and so full of life. She loved to dance, and laugh, and we hit it off right away. Paula was divorced, and in her previous marriage, she had felt stifled as a stay-at-home mother. She had five children ranging from the ages of six to sixteen. I had never been married or had a child. Where most guys would’ve run for the hills, I stayed around and helped to support the family. Our love was a whirlwind, and before we knew it, we had a daughter, got married, and then a big change.

Paula’s oldest daughter is an actress, and she had just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime. Paula was the Executive Producer, and her daughter, Melissa, was the star of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Our lives changed drastically. Paula and I had to make a decision.

All of Paula’s dreams were about to come true. We packed the whole family up and moved from the east coast to Los Angeles. We decided that with Paula working as a producer that I would stay home with the children. It wasn’t a particularly difficult decision to make seeing as she now had the potential to make more money than I could ever dream of making as a hairstylist. So I would take the kids to school, clean the house, shop for groceries, take care of the garden, help the kids with homework, cook dinner, etc. Any stay-at-home parent will tell you that this is no easy task. It is hard work raising children, not to mention we now have seven. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my life, and I love my wife, and I love my children.

Fast-forward 20 years: my youngest daughter was a senior in high school, and I was facing an empty nest for the first time since meeting my wife. I was watching an episode of FOX’s, “Masterchef” after cooking dinner, and Paula turned to me and said, “you could do that!” At first I shrugged it off, but the seed had already been planted. I asked myself, what’s the harm in trying out? After all, my kids’ friends always wanted to come over for my dinners, and I only ever heard compliments when I would cook for our dinner parties. So I did it. And then I got called back. And then I made top 100. And then top 30. And the rest is history.

But my journey is just beginning.