Rising Star Chef Leah Cohen of Pig and Khao - Biography

New York, NY

October 2018

Native New Yorker Leah Cohen grew up going to potlucks every weekend with her Filipino mother and European-Jewish father. In high school at the age of 16, Cohen took a six-week cooking class, which turned into kitchen jobs and then her enrollment at the Culinary Institute of America by 2001. She did her externship with David Burke at Park Avenue Café, and Burke encouraged her to attend Italy’s Slow Food program, which she followed with an additional year in Sicily at Michelin-starred Ristorante La Madia.Returning home, Cohen began working for Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park, where she was quickly promoted to tournant. In 2008, Cohen earned a sous chef position at Centro Vinoteca and took on the chef de cuisine role after competing on season 5 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” After the show, Cohen spent time traveling and staging in Southeast Asia, working at Bo Innovations in Hong Kong, and then BoLan and David Thompson’s Nahm in Bangkok. Craving fi rsthand knowledge, Cohen devoted a year to traveling across the Philippines and Thailand to learn the techniques and fl avors of those regions of the world.Cohen draws inspiration from this worldly knowledge at her Lower East Side restaurant, Pig & Khao, which she opened in 2013. The next year she earned a StarChefs Rising Stars Award for her work. She followed it up with the opening of Piggyback Bar in Jersey City in 2017.