He came to Miami from Rome five years ago and since his arrival, he has been working as a private Chef, teaching the youth about healthy food, sharing his knowledge in cooking tastings and now he’s going to have an ice cream flavor to his name.
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
“I am most of all an educator,” says Leonardo La Cava, 29, who approached the cuisine in his adolescence when he was living in Rome. He learned valuable lessons from a very young age: food makes people come together, fresh is better, cooking is an art and you are what you eat.
“There is nothing like making fresh pasta with your family on a Sunday afternoon. That’s how I remember most of my Sundays as a child. It’s a beautiful feeling that I’ll never forget because it represents everything that is good of life,” says La Cava who’s views about cooking have played a very important role in his own personal style that could be defined as “traditionally healthy with a modern twist”.
Under these premises, he started to work as a Chef after graduating from ALMA, a culinary school located in the italian City of Parma, where he was considered as “one of the successful cases”.
And he was indeed successful because over the years he not only has become a spokesman Chef of the Italian Cuisine worldwide but has also taken a major role in events such as the Barilla Pasta World Championship 2017, a cooking competition in Europe in which he participated while living in Miami, where he reached the semifinals with his Cacio and Pepe with red shrimp mango and raspberry dish.
But long before that competition or Miami were in the horizon, Leonardo had already cultivated a career working in luxury structures as Enoteca Barberini and La Caffetteria Italia in Rome where he learned that cooking is an art. “With cooking, you can be creative in every single meal,” says the Chef original from Rome.
His journey in Miami
Leonardo came to this city five years ago after being hired by an American family as a private Chef. It was an easy decision for him to make because it implied traveling and submerging in a different culture, two of the things that he is most passionate about.
“As a Chef, I love going to new places to experiment with new flavors and spread my culture. Coming to Miami was an opportunity for me to teach people what I already know about healthy eating and Italian traditions. I see myself as a promoter of health,” says La Cava.
With that goal in mind, Leonardo has managed to not only commit to his full-time job with a family but to engage in high level no profit events such as masterclasses, programs for the youth and cooking tastings.
In 2016, he participated in the initiative “Lights On Afterschool” of After-School All-Stars (ASAS), where he taught middle schoolers healthy cooking and organized a meatball rolling contest.
Then, in 2018, he directed a masterclass of healthy cuisine with typical Italian products inside the context “Extraordinary Italian Taste”. In 2019, he also conducted an exclusive Italian food tasting in an event called “Italy in Miami” that took place in a Jimmy Choo store in Bal Harbour Shops.
In addition, that year he was also part of “The Best of Italian Design 2nd Edition” in May, where he participated in a food design contest based on creativity, taste and food plating.
Most recently, on February 21, he cooked with certified quality products for an audience of one hundred people at Florida International University in the Symposium “Made in Italy, the Law of Food, Wine, and Design.”
But his journey in Miami is not over. He has two more events already booked for the coming month and he was recently asked to create a healthy gelato flavor for an important U.S. company by his name.
After that, he plans to continue his mission of educating people around healthy eating. “You are what you eat. People need to be more aware of what they eat and how they eat it,” says La Cava.
According to him, Americans usually want something quick but fail to ask themselves what is behind every meal. “Not knowing or caring enough to know about the food that you eat takes a toll on your health,” warns the healthy cooking Chef.
And as a promoter of health, he also wants to break down myths about pasta and its connection with weight gain. “It’s all about portions. Our Italian diet is considered one of the best in the world because it’s balanced. You just need to use the right amount, the right technique and the best quality ingredients”.
But it’s also about choosing the right source of information. “Today, we have access to many sources of information when it comes to healthy eating. The problem is that most sources are incorrect. This is the kind of thing that people need to know.”
When asked about his personal signature dishes, La Cava says his favorites are the sweet cherry gazpacho, the vegan banana french toast, the Maji Maji coconut and lime ceviche on avocado toast and the brown rice spaghetti with zucchini and lemon.