Rising Star Chef of the Year Semifinalist

By: The Art Institutes Filed under: Culinary

February 28, 2018

De Leon is a 2011 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management program at The Art Institute of Houston. 

During her time at The Art Institute of Houston, De León interned at Recipe 4 Success, a non-profit organization that educates school children in the importance of gardening, cooking and eating healthy. She also interned at what would become her first kitchen job, RDG Bar + Annie. After her internship ended with Bar + Annie, De León stayed on as a line cook for about a year and a half, working through the majority of the stations.

At the end of her time there, she desired to learn more about butchery and curing meat, so she applied at Revival Market. Though she worked primarily in prep and the sandwich station, she observed all she could. They often brought in split pigs and large beef primals, cured and made salumis and sausages, sourced local produce, and sold local cheese and other small local vendor products. Also at this time in Houston, places like Underbelly, Hay Merchant, Oxheart, and Pass and Provisions were either in their first years, opening up, or in the planning stages and build outs. The chefs would often visit Revival and test recipes, prep for events, or buy product. All of this was extremely exciting and motivating for De León, and after a year of working at Revival, she joined the opening team of The Pass & Provisions.

The next two years at The Pass & Provisions were some of the most challenging but rewarding years in her career. It was a time of growing and learning. She worked through all of the stations in both concepts, and was also promoted to a Junior Sous Chef after a year of working there. When her time there came to a close, she took a month off to spend some time with her family.

While job searching, De León was approached by Adam Dorris, the chef at the time of Pax Americana. She took a sous chef position at Pax, and began to learn a new skill set of not only pickling, preserving, and fermenting, but also managing staff and developing menu items. After a year and a half at Pax, De León was promoted to Chef de Cuisine, and continued to oversee the daily and nightly operations of the restaurant. At the beginning of January 2017, Dorris left the restaurant, and De León assumed the role of Executive Chef after having worked at Pax Americana for just over two years.

After a complete menu reboot in early February, De León focused on using the same fresh ingredients that Pax had always used, while implementing her style and creativity and rotating menu items in and out throughout the seasons. During her time as Executive Chef, she was awarded Rising Star Chef in the Houston CultureMap Tastemaker 2017 Awards, and Pax Americana was named as a Houston Chronicle Top Ten Restaurant in 2017.

De Leon left Pax at the end of January 2018 to move to Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Abe, where they continue to cook, learn, and work towards opening a restaurant of their own.

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By: The Art Institutes Filed under: Culinary

February 28, 2018