A Letter From Kristian

Happy Wednesday Friends!

This week we're celebrating a full year since we opened the doors to LEONA in Venice Beach, a neighborhood I've grown my family and called home for 15 years.

It had been a dream to open a restaurant with an original feel, an experience, one with a sense of place. LEONA started with a very simple vision: to bring a thoughtful and refreshing dining experience to our neighborhood. 

So... here we are, one year later.

In this short time we've accomplished what so many restauranteurs and chefs dream of in beginning this journey.

From serving regular smiling faces of the community to standing alongside thought leaders in the culinary arts, hospitality, entertainment, culture, technology, and beyond. We've been included in the 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles by renowned food journalist Jonathan Gold for the LA Times amongst so many accolades. We've traveled the nation as a team sharing our concept and cuisine, dancing together, snowboarding together, playing soccer, and now celebrating together. It really is a dream come true.

And with all of this, I am humbled and grateful. Today, I take pause to thank you all. I'd like to thank the neighbors, the family and friends, the guests, the press, the photographers, writers, and all of the local businesses, vendors, and members of the community that have supported us.

I am proud of my wife and partner, Breegan Jane Vallas who designed our beautiful space. I'm grateful to our team. To our partner and Chef, Nyesha Arrington who has inspired us with creativity, innovation, and her pure and natural talent creating food that "hugs you from the inside." To our manager Matt Bouvet and head of marketing Joey Rubin...  Thank you all, for all you've done.

It's been an amazing year, and now it's time to celebrate. We have special events going on through the week, follow us on on Facebook or Instagram to get all the announcements.

It's an honor to serve you all. Cheers to the future ahead.

Thank you,
Kristian Vallas
Owner, LEONA


Recipe: Coconut Cured Snapper Ceviche with Quinoa "Sand" and Plantains

Coconut Cured Snapper Ceviche with Quinoa "Sand" and Plantain Chips

Serves 8

Nyesha served this refreshing and globally inspired dish for Outstanding in the Field at Coachella. It's an amazing summer dish that can be prepared for friends the night before a backyard party, or day of if you're feeling ambitious and want the perfect freshness of the fish.

For Purple Sweet Potatoes:
1 1/2 Lbs. purple sweet potato
Blend Oil

Rub potatoes with blend oil, wrap in aluminum. Roast at 375 for 45 mins. Season with salt. Let sit and cool, dice in to 1in cubes after cooled, set aside.

For Plantains: 
3 of the greenest plantains you can find
Blend Oil

Slice off both ends of plantains. Peel back skin with a knife and use a mandolin to slice thin as a dime lengthwise. Drop plantain slices in to 300 degree oil for a lightly crisp golden brown. Season immediately with sea salt and Korean chili flake (or paprika or cayenne). Let cool and set aside. Reserve oil and bring up to 425 degrees for quinoa.

Black crispy quinoa sand
1lb of quinoa
4 quarts boiling water
1qt mirepoix (1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, 1/2 yellow onion)
Sea Salt

Dice celery, carrot and onion to make mirepoix and roast in heavy bottom 4 - 6 qt pot in blend oil. Add quinoa and 4 quarts boiling water. Cook until al dente (roughly 30 minutes). Drain water and air-dry quinoa on a baking sheet. 

Drop strainer of dried quinoa in small batches in 425 degree hot oil to flash fry and get crispy / puffy quinoa. Let cool and season with sea salt. Set aside and turn off oil.

Cured Red Snapper
3lbs Red Snapper
2 cup of lime juice
1 cups of coconut water
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp Sea Salt
Pinch cayenne

Dice snapper to 1 in cubes removing silver skin and / or bloodline. Toss all ingredients in a stainless or glass bowl on top of an ice bath. Let sit covered in plastic wrap for 45 minutes (good up to 12hrs if you're serving for a party.) 

To plate
Toss in sweet potatoes in ceviche
Add in rough chop cilantro without stems
Place a cup of snapper in chilled service bowls
Top off with crispy quinoa
Garnish ceviche with plantain chips and cilantro flower