Leo Lopez was born in Los Angeles and at the age of two he and his family moved to Zacatecas, Mexico. His extended family lived on a farm outside of the city where he spent most of his weekends and summers. He developed an early appreciation for fresh produce and organic food and knew he wanted to become a chef.
Cornfields, fresh chiles, quince, apples, raw cow and goat's milk were staples, as well as free range chickens and artisan cheese. His fondest memories are of his grandmother - traveling with her to the mill to grind the corn for fresh corn tortillas and gathering eggs from the coop.
At the age of 11 Lopez and his family moved back to Los Angeles where he finished school. In 2002 he graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in culinary arts from the Art Institute of California Los Angeles.
After school Lopez went to work at Yi Cuisine in West Los Angeles, working his way up to sous chef in two years. Yi Cuisine was owned and operated by Chef Rodelio Aglibot, best known as "The Food Buddha." He was the opening chef of KOI the celebrity hotspot in Beverly Hills. While at Yi Cuisine, he worked at the one Michelin Star restaurant, The Water Grill, where he developed a love and appreciation for seafood. In 2006 he was chosen by Chef Aglibot to be the Head Chef of a small concept he worked on called Empress: Sushi on Sunset.
In 2007 Lopez became the sous chef at Gordon Biersch Brewery in Burbank, Calif., where he learned about craft beer and beer & food pairings. In 2009 he was offered the executive sous chef position at Border Grill, "The Two Hot Tamales" concept owned by celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken.
In 2011 Lopez joined Tavistock Restaurants as the sous chef for Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, Calif. He was promoted to executive chef of California Cafe Los Gatos one year later.