A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, Leah’s first position in a New York City kitchen was working for celebrated chef David Burke at Park Avenue Café. While at Park Avenue Café, Leah adapted David’s philosophy of utilizing the freshest seasonal ingredients and was encouraged to enroll in a Slow Food program based in Italy. After studying the intricacies of Italy’s diverse culinary landscape, Leah stayed on for an additional year in Sicily at Michelin-stared restaurant, La Madia, to focus on a cuisine that blends the bold and fresh flavors of the Mediterranean.
Upon returning to New York, Leah refined her craft at Eleven Madison Park under the tutelage of Chef Daniel Humm. Rising through the ranks from Garde Mangé to Chef de Partie, Leah was quickly promoted to a tourant between the fish and meat roasting stations. After working for a year at the four star restaurant, Leah traded in refined for rustic when she joined Anne Burrell at Centro Vinoteca in 2008. While working under Chef Burrell, Leah truly explored her love of Italian cooking, and also landed a spot on BRAVO’s hit television series, “Top Chef.” After a successful run on the show, and with national recognition, Leah returned to Centro Vinoteca as the restaurants Executive Chef, where she continued to explore her culinary creativity with an inventive Italian menu that attracted West Village locals and destination diners alike.
After a few years at Centro Vinoteca, Leah decided to take a sabbatical and spent a year traveling throughout Southeast Asia learning about her Asian heritage. One year later, Leah returned home to bring the bold flavors of Asian street food to New York, combining a culinary technique honed in New York’s top kitchens with the bold flavors found in the restaurants and food stalls of Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia. Leah’s cooking is innovative and strikingly authentic, and is on display daily at Pig & Khao restaurant on the lower east side of NYC. Pig & Khao has been voted the Best Asian Restaurant in NYC by Zagat, and the Best SE Asian Restaurant in NYC by the Epoch Times.
Leah has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show,” “CBS This Morning” and “VH1’s Morning Buzz.” She is a regular judge on the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” and has been featured in Food & Wine, Saveur, Harper’s Bazaar and more.