Alex Leonard was born in Chicago and started cooking at age 16. He began his fine dining career at Le Vichyssois. After spending five years with Bernard Cretier, he went on work with Chef Laurent Gras at the opening of L2O in Chicago. Leonard moved to New York City in 2010 to work at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Daniel, then Paul Liebrandt’s two Michelin-starred Corton.  He went on to spend two months with acclaimed chef Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen. The experience left Alex with a new insight into cooking and a rejuvenated spirit. 

In 2012 he began working with Carlo Mirarchi at Blanca in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. As Chef de Cuisine, he helped chef Mirarchi earn two-stars in the Guide Michelin, and three-stars from the New York Times.

In 2015 Leonard opened Lowlife on the Lower East Side, earning a Zagat 30 under 30 nomination.  His personal hobbies include, traveling, photography, and making ceviche.

Laurent Gras, a native of French Provence, began his culinary career at age 15. His early resume is a list of great chefs including Jacques Maximin, Alain Senderens and Guy Savoy. After attaining three Michelin stars, at Louis XV in Monte-Carlo and then at Alain Ducasse Paris, Gras decided it was time to find his own restaurant.

In 1997 he arrived at the Waldorf Astoria's Peacock Alley in New York, moving to San Francisco’s Fifth Floor in 2001. Gras designed and opened L2O in Chicago in 2007, earning three Michelin stars in 2011 in the first Chicago edition.

Gras has earned accolades from “Best New Chef” to “Best New Restaurant” from media and industry alike. Outside the kitchen, his groundbreaking L2O Blog, garnered international recognition. His digital cookbook, Laurent Gras: My Provence (Alta Editions 2012) won two IACP awards. He writes a column for Savuer Magazine, Season to Taste.

Today, his New York-based group laurent Gras Consulting offers services from restaurant concept and menu, to kitchen design and retail product development to global clientele.

Tim Dornon was born in South Korea and raised in Temple, Texas. In his late 20’s Tim made his way to Chicago where he worked at L2O with Chef Laurent Gras. For Dornon, it was a life-changing experience—the French and Asian influences there opened the door to a world of flavor, creativity, and culinary craft.

Dornon returned to Texas in 2013 to open Qui in Austin with James Beard award winner Chef Paul Qui. Qui helped build the thriving Austin food scene that brought national attention to the food culture of Texas.

Most recently, Tim was Sous Chef at the three-Michelin-star-rated Eleven Madison Park in New York City. There, Tim was honored to be a part of the team that helped EMP earn the No. 3 spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2016.  Eleven Madison Park brought to life the idea that when you have a group of talented people, a boundless vision, and a relentless drive for perfection—anything is possible.