Justin Leboe | Risk Taker

By Kailash Maharaj
December 15, 2009

Photography by Derrick Woo

Growing up in Vancouver, food was an important part of the Leboe household, whether picking chanterelles in winter on Vancouver Island, collecting beach oysters or crabbing with cousins. For ten years, the chef worked in some of the top kitchens in North America (The French Laundry, Daniel, Jean-Georges).

Sensing that the best way to advance his skills would be to work with world renowned chefs, Leboe quickly concocted a plan – writing, what he calls “stacks of letters” to various chefs. One in particular garnered the response he was seeking. Two weeks after writing to Chef Thomas Keller, Leboe received got a phone call from the French Laundry.

In 2006, Leboe travelled to Bermuda for a three year stint as executive chef at a fifty room Relais and Chateaux property. He soon moved to work with Chef Patrick O’Connell at the Inn on little Washington in Virginia, which Leboe credits as being a vital learning experience on his career.

Rush has given the chef an opportunity to move to another stage in his career. “When you’re a little kid growing up your mother always tells you don’t play with your food. I managed to turn that into a career. That’s really all I do for a living every day, and it’s a different atmosphere in the kitchen because you’re just playing and it’s not really work at that point. When you come [to Rush], you’re going to feel like the King or Queen of the world and at the end of the day you’re going to say ‘wow, I didn’t expect that,’” explains Leboe.

Q. Favourite Kitchen Tool

A. Yanagiba left handed Japanese knife

This is an excerpt of an original article. For more about Justin Leboe see the Winter 2009/2010 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.