Those of us Foodies living in Wine Country know all about PizzaLeah. it’s the ALL AIMED and ADORED Pizza from Chef Leah. I first heard about PizzaLeah from Johanna Valette (Chef Dustin of Valette Restaurant’s wife) and after I first experienced it I knew what all the excitement was about. Read more about Chef Leah below and order some Pizza from PizzaLeah on their website here.
What was your first memory of cooking and what did you cook?
My first memory of cooking is learning how to make guacamole with my dad. My mom and dad owned a Mexican restaurant when I was a child and my dad still owns one
What is a knife you cannot live without?
I love a Japanese Nakiri made with an American handle.
What is one ingredient you cannot cook without?
Got to be salt. Good salt enhances everything. That and a good quality olive oil.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you made your first year in the culinary industry?
Not honing my knife skills properly.
When did you know you wanted to become a chef? What was your first chef Job?
My first job in the kitchen was working the line at a hamburger joint when I was 16. My parents always tried to steer me away from the restaurant industry. Didn’t do much good. I always knew I never wanted to work in an office though.
What brought you to Sonoma County and made you decide to start PizzaLeah?
Family brought me to Sonoma County. I debated whether to open a brick-and-mortar or a mobile pizza truck. I figured if I had a pizza truck I would be working on weekends and if I was going to be working on weekends I might as well open a restaurant.
What is your favorite pizza on the current PizzaLeah Menu?
Currently, my favorite pizza is the Nico. Roasted garlic, fresh rosemary, black pepper and finish with Reggiano
What is one of your favorite SPECIAL Pizza’s as I know you have many daily specials which are not permanent fixtures on the menu?
My favorite special is always the current one. I’ve really been loving the Nutty Fig we’ve been running but I also absolutely love making squash blossom and peach pizzas
Who has been the most influential mentor/chef in your career?
There have been many influential people along the way. To name a couple I would say Tim Silva and Lars Smith.
What is your favorite after-work drink?
Always an ice-cold beer
As a Sonoma local, what is your favorite local spot when you’re not working?
Right now my go-to is often Kettles Bistro. I absolutely love Vietnamese food. I also try to make it to Corner Project in Geyserville and Belly in downtown Santa Rosa whenever possible.
Tell us something that would surprise people about you?
I was never professionally trained as a pizzaiola.