about Chef Leon
I’m Leon C. Brunson, a private chef & owner of Leon’s at Lake Ella based in Tallahassee, Florida. My approach to cooking is to immerse guests in a southern hospitality-style experience surrounded by food influenced by international techniques and flavors worldwide.
I began cooking as a short-order cook at Waffle House. I didn't know if I wanted to attend college, but I did know that I loved how it felt to cook.
Education was important, but nothing was as electrifying as a kitchen environment.
In 2013, I decided to enroll in culinary school. While in school, I worked my way up in restaurants to obtain real-life skills and conventional training.
Graduating culinary school in 2015 was preceded by my father having a life-threatening brain aneurysm. I decided to get my bachelor's in neuroscience from Florida State University.
After obtaining my bachelor's degree in 2018, I realized my heart was in food. I now host private dinners, cooking classes, and weddings.
My cooking style is inspired by techniques and flavors inspired by international cuisine.
I've found passion in the emotions food brings to others and myself.
What reinforced my passion for cooking.
Education is essential, whether you obtain it from school or experience. However, it never ends, and I strive to educate myself continuously.
Associate of Science
Gulf Coast State College Culinary School
American Culinary Federation (ACF) Accredited
Bachelor of Science
Florida State University
Biological Science Minor
My Vision & Values
With the assistance of local farmers and businesses, Leon's at Lake Ella wishes to inspire healthier communities by connecting people to natural, fresh, and flavorful food. By paying attention to small details relating to food, and a solid social media presence, we look to use this restaurant to change the community and the world.
Stand behind the quality of our products. Proudly admit where we source our ingredients. Be proud of your work and the work we have as a team. Every dish. Every ingredient.
Food has history, roots, tradition, flavor, and emotions. I must continue to educate myself, my staff, and my guests on the food we do. Educate on the roots of the food we use by partnering with farms. But also: educate on the business that we are doing. Educate on the decisions made.
If everything worked precisely as we wished, life would be easy, and everyone would be rich. The importance of being able to adapt to new or unexpected situations plays a large part in successful work life. Most times, failure stems from the inability to adjust to our conditions.
Teamwork. Work towards a common goal. Work with each other to grow together and become educated. Practice our core values together. Help in tasks that may not be necessarily assigned to you. Understand the goals we share, and help each other execute them.
Curiosity allows us to stay humble and will enable us to chase knowledge. Understand the “why” behind what we do. It will allow for growth and open up other values.
Every day is an opportunity to become more knowledgeable and grow both in the workplace and in life. It is crucial to allow yourself to stay humble and allow for opportunities to grow. We become stronger and grow from continuous effort and struggle. We need to be in these positions to succeed. Growth can derive from success, failures, mistakes, and accidents. It's essential always to take note of the outcome and evaluate it for proper development.
A balance should be encouraged in the workplace to help reduce stress and burnout and keep coworkers in a good mental state. This can serve as the base of a positive, collaborative, and productive workforce. Our lives outside of work include family, loved ones, or personal hobbies that bring more happiness than the hospitality life could. Understand there must be a work-life balance to achieve productivity and joy in the workplace.
Happiness MATTERS. We want to do good things and live well and desire a good life. Part of their lives is working in organizations. Because we now spend so much time at work and devote energy and attention to it, our organizations have become the source of many of our interpersonal, social, and political relationships. To achieve a good life, we must have a good organization. (refer to “The Value of Happiness in the Workplace)
Courage allows us to move through our fears, make difficult choices and take specific actions that we know will be difficult, challenging, and at times painful. Embracing the energy and power of the heart to move through fear is the core of courage.
Innovation means looking at new ways of doing the same thing. It also means knowing which areas are appropriate for innovation, having the courage to change, and tolerating failures.
Commitment means we are present when we come to work. We give it our best. We choose to be here.
A great recipe is more than great taste; but are a story, a memory, and an emotional connection to a beautiful past.