Rising Star Chef Edgar Leal of CACAO (Now Closed) - Biography

Coral Gables, FL

June 2004

At the age of 17, Edgar Leal decided to kick-start his culinary life and began working as a chef at Gazebo Restaurant in his native Caracas, Venezuela. After two years of training under the guidance of Chef Marc Provost, Leal seized the opportunity to work under Chef Pierre Blanchard at Deuxime Etage Restaurant, also in Caracas. Just six years later, his discipline, sense of responsibility, humbleness, and genuine kindness brought Leal to Spain to work at Casa Carmona Restaurant in Seville under Chef Iñaqui Izaguirre, winner of the national award of gastronomy in Spain.

After two years, Leal returned home to work at ARA Restaurant in Caracas. Three years later, Leal became the restaurant’s executive chef. At the same time, he was named executive chef at the Centro Lido Hotel and Nouveau Grill.

Truly committed to his craft, Leal chose to hone his skills at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, where he earned an A.O.S. While at the Institute, he interned at Restaurant Daniel in New York City and El Bulli in Spain, Ferran Adria’s famed restaurant. In 2002, Leal moved to Miami and opened Cacao in Coral Gables. The restaurant was named Best New Restaurant by both The Miami Herald and Florida Trend Magazine. In December 2003, Leal was the first Venezuelan to present a dinner at the James Beard Foundation House in New York City, and his hard work and dedication earned Leal a spot among the 2004 StarChefs.com Rising Stars.