About Johnny Leach, Executive Chef, Hoxton Portland
Chef Johnny Leach’s journey to the kitchens of La Neta and Tope in the Hoxton began early in life, spending time with his Mexican grandfather, who often made the family spicy bowls of posole. Leach grew up and attended culinary school in Oregon, making his way to New York at the age of 22. He worked for Jeffrey Zakarian at Country and Town, then moved on to Del Posto. Leach then joined David Chang’s culinary team at Momofuku, first at Ko, then opening Ma Peche in 2009 as Chef de Cuisine. Despite working primarily with Asian flavors, Leach was continually drawn back to the flavors and rich culinary traditions of Mexico, which he began to pursue personally and through travel. Leach and his wife, Helen Jo (Pastry Chef of Le Pigeon, formerly of Momofuku Milk Bar) moved back to Oregon in 2014, with eyes on opening his own restaurant and dedicating his career to the pursuit of Mexican cooking. In 2017 Leach opened his first restaurant, Chalino, in Northeast Portland, loosely inspired by the food of Mexico City, with influences from his time at Momofuku. Teaming up with Submarine Hospitality (Tusk, Ava Gene’s) to open a project as broad in scope as the Hoxton restaurants, Leach has found his dream job, a venue to explore the varied flavors of regional Mexican cuisine while drawing upon the seasonal produce, meats, beans and grains available in the Pacific Northwest.