How do you culminate 30 years of experience that include early seasoning at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, earning an A.O.S and internships with Daniel Boulud in New York City and Ferran Adria in “El Bulli” in Barcelona, Spain? You begin your dream. Edgar Leal is an accomplished and impassioned chef who has filtered a global experience to created...Read More
How do you culminate 30 years of experience that include early seasoning at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, earning an A.O.S and internships with Daniel Boulud in New York City and Ferran Adria in “El Bulli” in Barcelona, Spain? You begin your dream. Edgar Leal is an accomplished and impassioned chef who has filtered a global experience to created one of South Florida’s most critically acclaimed restaurants. A creative and cultured free spirit, Chef Leal crafted his own destiny at the age of seventeen, when he decided to take his place in life as a chef; and to make a name for himself in doing so. Chef Leal began as an apprentice cook under the guidance of Chef Marc Provost, at Gazebo Restaurant in his native Caracas, Venezuela. After two years of impressive growth and an outstanding and conscientious work ethic, Leal had the opportunity to work under Chef Pierre Blanchard at Deuxième Ètage Restaurants, in Caracas. Following six years of disciplined application and highly detailed execution of his responsibilities, the industrious Chef Leal accepted an opportunity to work at Casa Carmona Restaurant in Seville under the hand of Chef Iñaqui Izaguirre, winner of the National Award of gastronomy in Spain. Two years of Spain and the environs of Europe, where he was able to reach into a variety of cultures including France and Monaco, gave Chef Leal a new depth and just enough restlessness to return home to forge a fresh path. He became the Executive Chef at ARA Restaurant Group, including ARA, the Nouveau Grill and the Hotel Lido. With Chile as his next destination; Chef Leal served as Guest Chef in the Marriot Hotel, Santiago de Chile, where he participated in a festival by changing the entire menu for a week. He was then invited to return to Europe by “Le Café de Paris” Monte Carlo,
Monaco, to work his culinary prowess for their gastronomical weeks. Food has been a gateway to the world for Chef Leal, a pathway through many countries and cultures. As he continues to perfect his craft, he has come to be noticed as the Ambassador of Latin American Cuisine in the world. The seventeen year old with a constant and tremendous talent has blossomed into an urbane young man of impeccable taste, unquestionable talent and accomplishment. His vision remains fresh, because he continues to raise his standard. The dream? Cacao Restaurant, Leal Restaurant Caracas and Leal Bistro & art wynwood. Chef Leal opened Cacao in Coral Gables in October 2002, with his wife Mariana Montero De Castro, Chef de Cuisine and Patissier of the restaurant. Cacao Restaurant was named Best New Restaurant by Food & Wine, Florida Trend Magazine and The Miami Herald, and
Coral Gables’ Most Accomplished Restaurant by Wine Spectator. Chef Leal has been featured by The New York Times,
Time Magazine and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show. Chef Leal was named StarChefs Rising Star in 2004, along with
Best Restaurant in Miami by Food & Wine. In 2007, Cacao was named one of America’s top 10 restaurants in
Miami/South Florida by Zagat’s Restaurant Survey. Most recently, Wine Spectator Magazine recognized the restaurant
with an “Award of Excellence” for their prized wine list.
In 2006, Chef Leal was commissioned by Antonio Ochoa-Piccardo, Architect and Owner of Tao Tie Yuan Restaurant in
Beijing, China, to become Consultant Chef for the very first Fine Dining Latin Restaurant in China. This same year, Chef
Leal was chosen to represent the Miami Region during the “Miami-Latin America Food Festival” at the Ciragan Palace
Hotel Kempinski Istambul, Turkey, one of the finest luxury hotels worldwide. The renowned Intercontinental Hotel in
Tokyo, Japan has also hosted Chef Leal’s creativity and majesty in the kitchen. That same year, Chef Leal had the honor
of personally serving Princess Takamado of Japan, his fine culinary specialties during a “South American Gastronomic
Festival” as part of an international cultural exchange event.
In 2007, Chef Leal was selected as a Distinguished Visiting Chef by Johnson & Wales University in Miami, FL. One of the
nation’s most prestigious culinary arts institutions, Johnson & Wales’ Distinguished Chef Series was established in 1979 to
honor outstanding culinarians and, at the same time, provide an expanded learning experience for culinary art students
while raising scholarship funds for students in need of financial help. In addition, Chef Anthony Bourdain and Chef Edgar
Leal held a management and leadership conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Chef Leal’s home town, in August 2007 to
aspiring restaurant students.
In 2008, Cacao Restaurant was featured and named best Venezuelan restaurant in the Food & Drink section of The Wall
Street Journal. Chef Leal was selected to co-host a cooking show for CASA Club TV, La Cocina de Edgar leal, which aired
all over America, Spain and Portugal.
Now Chef Leal, runs his owned restaurant in wynwood Called Totem.
With Leal Restaurant Edgar won the Silver Spoon in 2015, the most prestigious award that a Venezuelan can get in the
Many honors have been awarded to Chef Leal, but two of the closest to heart are the fact that he is the first Venezuelan
to present a dinner at the James Beard Foundation House in New York City (December 2003/July 2005) as well as
receiving a Special Appreciation Award by Easter Seals for his dedication in implementing culinary mentor programs
designed to enhance the capabilities of young individuals with special needs. Edgar Leal: dreamer, traveler, an
Ambassador; but most of all, a Chef.