Cook. Craft. Create. Host Chapter & Convention Chef

Meet the Host Chapter

ACF New Orleans Chapter will be hosting Cook. Craft. Create. Learn more about this chapter and how you can get involved..

Leon West

Leon West

Executive Chef, Messina's at Lakefront Airport


Executive Chef Leon West is a graduate of the Massachusetts Vocational and Technical School’s Culinary Arts Program. He received his on-the-job training with the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. Chef West was certified on July 14, 1970, by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

Chef West began his career with ARA then, now Aramark in 1978. After only five years, he accepted the position of Executive Chef of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. He arrived in New Orleans in 1984 with his wife and seven daughters, while the newly constructed building was in use as the centerpiece of the World’s Fair. Chef West has been recognized among his peers, both locally and internationally, as one of New Orleans’ most talented chefs. He has delighted the most discriminating tastes with his versatile talents and his unique ability to adapt from small elegant functions to dinners for over 12,000 attendees. Over the years, he has effectively managed a staff of over 200 cooks and pantry personnel. Most recently Executive Chef with Messsina’s at the lake front airport.

The outstanding characteristics of Chef West are dedication, willingness to create the extraordinary under extreme pressure, and being well versed in every aspect of cooking. He personifies this by working 12, 15, even 20 hours a day.

Some of his more outstanding accomplishments include:

  • The Republican Party’s Salute to Nancy Reagan (4,200 Guests).
  • A $1,000 per plate Fund-Raiser for George Bush (5,000 Guests).
  • 1986 And 1997 National Football League Commissioner’s Party.
  • Corporate meeting that served over 35,000 people in a 24 hour period to include: Plated Breakfast, Lunch, Platted Dinner followed by Platted Breakfast the next day.
  • Host Executive Chef for the Hot Foods Competition in conjunction with The Louisiana Restaurant Association Food Show.
  • Maitre Des Cuisines at International Culinary Society-Chaine Des Rotisseurs’ Exclusive Dinner (February of 1992, June of 2002, July of 2006 and March 8 of 2015).
  • Cover Story of Chef’s Magazine-December 1995.
  • Inducted Into The Chaine Des Rotisseurs Gourmet Society on December 9th,1995
  • Received “Chef of The Year” Honors From The American Culinary Federation (ACF) New Orleans Chapter (1996).
  • Inducted into A Taste of Heritage Foundation’s African-American Chef’s Hall of Fame.
  • Executive Chef of the “Taste of the NFL” in 2002.
  • Received the American Culinary Federation Medallion for Culinary Excellence in 2011.
  • Vice President of ACFNO 2014 and 2015
  • President of ACFNO 2016 and 2017

Chef Leon West is routinely honored for his participation in annual community events to include: Dollars for Scholars, YMCA, Christmas in October, Friends of City Park, Great Expectations, N.O. Aids Task Force, Cherish the Children, and the Sugarplum Ball to benefit Children’s Hospital. He works closely with Second Harvesters Food Bank as well as the Bridge House and Ozanam Inn to help feed those in need. Additionally, as a member of the American Culinary Federation, New Orleans Chapter, Chef Leon participated in an event recognizing thirty-five local Chefs to raise money for both Children’s Hospital and New Orleans Culinary Students.

In addition to producing these large, high profile events, Chef Leon has continued his training with the Culinary Institute. He successfully completed courses in Ingredients and Flavor Dynamics in December of 2001 and Pro Chef in August of 2003. He is an active member in the Local Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and has been awarded the A.C.F.N.O. President’s Award.