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Art-world rebel Damien Hirst, by the numbers; cultivating a taste for greatness in Ethiopian coffee; on the road with the spirit of Mark Twain; a Swiss watchmaker whose time has come; woking and talking with Katie Leclerc


At her family’s restaurant back home,
TV actress Katie Leclerc finds herself in a familiar role


Katie Leclerc, the 25-year-old star of ABC Family’s runaway hit “Switched at Birth,” is cooking lunch for her family at Fire Wok, their Chinese restaurant in north San Antonio. She darts from counter to stove, tossing freshly cut vegetables and tangy ginger into a wok. Then, raising her arm dramatically, she dashes it all with broth and laughs as steam envelops her. “This is where I learned to cook, right here, doing shifts after high school,” she says. “And when I come home from L.A. to visit, my dad puts me back to work. No free rides! But I love it.”

Family is a big theme in “Switched at Birth,” which launched its second season earlier this year. The hourlong drama is about two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital, and who have ended up in very different households. Leclerc plays one of the girls, Daphne Vasquez, who is deaf, and it’s a role she’s suited for in more ways than one: Leclerc has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a degenerative ear disorder that causes intermittent hearing loss and vertigo, for the past five years.

But while Leclerc has guest-starred on the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” as a deaf character and recently served on a panel at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C., she doesn’t intend to become typecast. “I would love to do an action movie,” Leclerc says, as she deftly tops off the dish with hoisin sauce. Her father pokes his head into the restaurant’s kitchen and nods his approval before taking the plates to the assembled uncles and cousins.

Leclerc pauses to take a breather. “I wouldn’t mind becoming a top chef, either,” she says. — SCOTT ANDREWS

One Response to “Dispatches”

  1. James Hayes-Bohanan Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you for including this report — far too few people recognize the human stories behind coffee and the many other consumables that the world economy brings to us from around the world.

    It is appropriate that you use the phrase “strike gold.” It brings to mind the 2006 film Black Gold, also about the high stakes involved in finding premium markets for Ethiopian coffee.

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