How Being a Church Member Helped This Man Become National Chef of the Year


When Chef Todd Leonard was serving his mission in Ohio, his go-to evening meal was out-of-the-box macaroni and cheese mixed with boiling water and salsa — hold the butter and the milk.

“That was my dinner for probably half of my mission. … I was just trying to survive and get the Lord’s work done,” he said, laughing.

None of then-Elder Leonard’s companions would have ever guessed they were serving with a future national cooking champ.

Last summer, the lifelong member was named the 2018 National Chef of the Year at the American Culinary Federation national convention in New Orleans. He is believed to be the first Latter-day Saint to claim the national cooking title.

“To me, it’s the most prestigious award in our country for chefs; it’s a big honor,” he told the Church News.

So how did a guy raised far from international food hubs such as New York City or San Francisco — he’s a proud native of Cottonwood Heights, Utah — end up as one of America’s premier chefs?

It all started with Scouting.

Photo by Jim McCulloch, Utah Valley University; retrieved from Church News

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