Chef Leo’s passion for food and family was instilled in him from a very young age by his mom and dad. He was raised in a small country town in Uruguay and the only way to experience fresh bread and cakes, decadent stews, barbeques and parillas was to get busy creating. He loved assisting his mother in the kitchen, blending the flavors of his heritage: a melting pot of cuisines from the Spanish, French, English, German and Portuguese. He knew by the time he was 5 years old that he wanted to be a chef! By the age of 20, Chef Leo owned and operated 2 beach side restaurants in the small town of La Paloma, Rocha State. To the delight of his customers, he traveled South America, learning from the many different cultures and developing a knack for creating expanded, intuitive flavor profiles.
One of Chef Leo’s other passions is surfing and he ‘rode the wave’ of a calling to Kauai in 2000. At the time, he spoke no English and Hawaiian American culture was totally foreign to him so he had to start from scratch, working his way up the restaurant ranks, beginning as a dishwasher. He quickly learned the language and the culture and his earnings fueled his travels to Indonesia, Tahiti, Cuba, México, Honduras, Guatemala, Miami and San Diego. In each culture, he learned about the flavors, the ingredients, and the heart and soul of the cuisine. He returned to Kauai to continue his cooking career with private clientele and become known around the island as Chef Leo. His extensive travels and willingness to adventure help him to work with any fresh ingredients he finds to create a meal that delights the senses and pleases the palate. One of his greatest joys is to help his guests see the abundance of culinary options available in their very own kitchen, helping them to expand their awareness and have fun in the process.