Piada Spotlight | Leon DeLeon
Meet Leon DeLeon, Corporate Chef, biker, metal-head, puppy-lover and all around badass. Leon is an indispensable member of our corporate Culinary team with over a decade of experience in the kitchen. He started his Piada journey managing the Piada Food Truck (RIP), and since then has had a hand in everything from our catering program to menu development to store operations. He’s a big guy with an even bigger smile, and a personality that lights up the room. We’re proud to highlight the notorious Chef Leon DeLeon and all he’s done for Team Piada.
Leonis a die-hard Columbsite with an eclectic range of hobbies. He’s clocked over 20 years here in Columbus and has grown to love the friends and memories he’s made in its music scene.
“Music is life's blood and Columbus is flooded with it. Before COVID, I loved going to concerts. Growing up, every night was a chance to go out dancing or see a live show. Rock, country, electronic, punk, metal, you name it, you’d see me there.”
For Leon, both the food industry and the music scene have been amazing ways to meet new people and experience new things. Just like his dad, Leon strived for a colorful life filled with interesting people, places and culture.
“I'm one of those people who loves to travel, which is why I’m here at Piada. I love meeting people and I love new places. Piada affords me the opportunity to travel to cities around the country. My goal is to follow in my father's footsteps and see as much of the country as I can. San Antonio and Northern Cali are some of my favorite places, and one day I’d like to make a trip out to Oregon. I want to spend time in the kitchen in all these different places.”
In his spare time (when he’s not serving up seriously good eats or charging a Wall of Death at a metal gig) you’ll find him in his garage, tuning up his motorcycles.
“I grew up in a motorcycle town. There's Hills Customs, Dead End Cycles, and four or five other custom bike builders in my hometown. I always dreamed about owning a Harley someday. But you know, I grew up poor, so I worked as hard as possible until I could finally afford my first bike, a Harley Softail. I never looked back. Rolling around the highways, enjoying the scenery, you feel really free.”
Leon grew up on his mother’s cooking, enjoying Mexican comfort foods and spending quality time eating with his family. He’s carried those memories into his own culinary journey and hopes to bring that goodness into a restaurant of his own someday.
“I always tell everybody, once I retire, I'm going to open a diner. I’ll make it some kind of stick-to-your-ribs mom’s style home-cooking. A little mixture of regular American comfort foods and Mexican comfort foods, things that remind you of home and family and being together with everybody that matters.”
If you live here in Columbus and love dogs, you might just follow @chickenandarlo on Instagram. Chicken, the big grey pitbull with the puppy-dog eyes, and Arlo, his feisty French Bulldog sidekick, are Leon and his girlfriend Mandy’s beloved dog-duo, and they add so much love and laughter to Leon’s everyday life. Chicken’s had a hard life, but you wouldn’t know it if you met him.
He’s a pitbull mix. He walked up to me one day, three and a half years ago, beat up, emaciated, definitely mistreated, and we coaxed him into the yard so we could take care of him. To be honest, he's been our savior ever since. He's 114 lbs of pitbull but he thinks he's a 12 lb cat. He tries to crawl up on top of everybody’s lap. When people come to our front door, they’re scared to death of him, but I'm always just laughing to myself because I know that all he would do is jump on them and lick them to death.”
Arlo is Chicken’s partner-in-crime, and Leon’s right-hand-man.
“He’s a small clown. He loves to get in the middle of everything. He loves to sit and watch bad episodes of Supernatural with me which is great. He's also very fashionable! He loves wearing clothes. He also loves conversing about all the food that he plans on taking off my plate.”
The life Leon’s built here in Columbus makes him happier than anything.
“Coming home to my girlfriend and the pups is the greatest. We live a good life, it's easy to say that there's no place like home.”
At work, Leon is a driving force. He’s a natural leader with years of kitchen experience and his love for people makes him an integral part of Piada’s culture. Leon’s mentorship attitude has helped him get far here. He believes Piada is only at the beginning of its journey.
“I like to lead by example. Ask anyone, I'm always the first one to ‘get my hands dirty.’ If something's broken, let's fix it. If there's a problem with the recipe, let's sit down and work it out. I don't like to walk by problems. I like to stop, figure out the situation, coach and work towards solutions. Nothing makes me feel better than putting in a good day’s work and feeling accomplished at the end of the day. Working with a great team that appreciates your hard work makes it worth it all.”
“I like the fact that Piada is still a young company. We've got a lot of opportunities, and we've also got a lot of people in the right positions with a lot of experience to bring to the table. I’m just glad to be a part of the journey.”
If you’re looking for a career with huge growth potential, head to careers.mypiada.com!