Rising Star Chef Mika Leon of Caja Caliente - Biography

Coral Gables, FL

February 2021

Monica “Mika” Leon comes from a family of ever-busy restaurant professionals—her grandfather was a restaurateur in Spain, and her mother owned a catering company. Leon always gravitated toward food and restaurants, but her mom warned against the long hours and stress. Leon went on to study business and PR at the University of Florida but couldn’t keep away from hospitality. In 2011, she started a food blog, Mikabites, and converted her mom’s garage into a wholesale bakery. (Local supermarkets couldn’t get enough of her empanadas.) She bought a food truck in 2016 and named the new enterprise Caja Caliente. Although Leon’s mother thought she was nuts, she immediately jumped in to help make the truck a hit. They began with Cuban pork tacos and some juices in Wynwood, and the truck’s success led to a brick-and-mortar in Coral Gables in 2019. Leon has since been named an Eater Young Gun semi-finalist and competed on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay and Guy’s Grocery Games. She’s now working on a line of retail cooking products. At only 30, she’s given Miami a strong appetite for her family recipes, which her mother, uncles, and cousins still prepare together in the Caja Caliente kitchen.