from the polo club
Boca raton, fl
Chef Edward is one of 61 Certified Master Chefs in the US, and one of four who also holds the Master Chef designation from Germany and World Cooks Society. He was the first American chef presented with the YYYin Award in Beijing for his global culinary impact, and received a doctorate from Johnson and Wales for his contributions to the profession.
Ed’s professional background includes positions at Trusthouse Forte, Westchester Country Club, and Le Cordon Bleu. He is currently the Director of Culinary Operations at The Polo Club of Boca Raton.
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My life has been centered on a simple thing called food and what I call “family hospitality.” My family was from Naples, Italy, and my nonna (grandmother) had 16 children. Sunday suppers consisted of multiple courses of homemade dishes, with sauces that simmered with care and the love of family and friends.
The sharing of food prepared with love was always our focus. We lived the “farm-to–table” life long before it became internationally trendy. Packaged food and additives were never served; our table bread was handmade from flour, salt, water, and a thing called fermentation.
For us, ”hospitality” was greeting a knock on the door with an invitation to come inside and share food and conversation. Growing up this way, along with traveling, taught me about diverse cultures, respect for other preparations and tastes, and a sensibility which became ingrained in my approach to cooking.
At Polo, we maintain 20 beehives for honey production, work with fishmongers from Nantucket, utilize a variety of top-tier produce suppliers, and focus on buying food as it should be. Our bakery has natural leaveners for our bread starters; we smoke our own salmon in-house; we pickle, we brine, we make fresh pasta.
For me, trends and marketing have never mattered; it is respect for ingredients and process that differentiate my approach to food.
It is my job—and my passion—to share this with my chef and cooks, to pass along my heritage, perspective, and orientation to food, and train them to one day teach others.
I insist that we respect high quality products, purchase astutely, prepare expertly, portion appropriately, and use ingredients that are unprocessed, natural and real. That is the essence of healthy eating for me.
I feel fortunate to have a hand in providing our members with something that touches their lives every day, whether a simple lunch by the pool, a wedding anniversary, or milestone birthday party. I want our food and the experience of dining to enhance the lives of others and reflect the enjoyment and conviviality I remember as a child.
edward leonard, CMC DIRECTOR OF CULINARY OPERATIONS, THE POLO CLUB OF BOCA RATON