Leonardo Esperacion Fernandez Jr. worked as a veterinarian in the Philippines and a pig farmer in rural New Zealand before moving to Auckland to focus on a career in the restaurant business and becoming a full-fledged chef. He was the runner-up of MasterChef New Zealand 2015.
Leo grew up in the town of Laoac in Pangasinan, a northern province of the Philippines. Raised with his two siblings, Ely and Mark, by his Ilocano father and Ilonga mother, he was exposed to good, passionate cooking from an early age. Leo’s food philosophy is “acknowledge and stick to the roots and cook from the heart.” He believes that Filipino cuisine is beautiful in itself and deserves better recognition from the rest of world.