Personable and adaptable, Executive Chef Leonard Delgado leads the kitchen at Chicago’s Lawry’s The Prime Rib with diverse culinary experience and the goal of creating lasting memories for his guests and an undeniable desire to return. Continuing Lawry’s decades-long reputation for exquisitely prepared prime rib and accompanying steakhouse fare, Delgado strives to romanticize the dining experience, showcasing the American restaurant’s Old World culinary heritage and passing along its merits to his team. “I’m a teacher,” he says. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s my obligation to teach my craft. The kitchen is my classroom.”
The experienced chef oversees the training program for Master Carvers as well as the aging and roasting of Lawry’s legendary cuts of beef. “Most of our menu comes from the tableside carts, so I spend most of my time in the dining room, which allows me to interact with guests,” he says, which allows his charming demeanor to contribute to the evening’s meal.
Delgado began cooking as a child in his mother’s kitchen in San Jose, CA, where he prepared impressive meals and desserts for his family. His culinary interests continued to grow as he did, and he left high school in order to pursue an internship in Switzerland, learning how to prepare French and Swiss pastries from master pastry chef Max Ackermann. He went on to earn his pastry chef certification from the American Culinary Federation in 1986.
Settled back in the States, Delgado took his first chef role at Fontana’s Italian Restaurant in Cupertino, CA at the age of 24. He then joined the Department of Defense in 1988 as executive chef for its NAS Moffett Field facility in Sunnyvale, CA. He became responsible for food and concession operations feeding on-site military individuals, high-ranking government officials, and visiting international diplomats.
In 1993, Delgado became director of food and beverage operations for The Chart House brand based in Solana Beach, CA. In concert with the upscale seafood chain’s leadership team, he helped contemporize an aging concept and took control of training chefs, maintaining national quality consistency, and evolving the menu.
Delgado then went on to help launch The Clubhouse, a Chicago-based restaurant concept known for inventive American cuisine, in Oak Brook, IL, Atlanta, GA, and Costa Mesa, CA. Leading from the 18,000 square-foot California outpost as executive chef and partner, Delgado handled menu development, vendor relations, back of the house operations, and financial duties for all three locations. In 2001, he parted ways with Clubhouse to pick up the role of executive kitchen manager for The Cheesecake Factory in San Jose, CA, at which he stayed until 2008.
He spent the next year as director of food and beverage for Strike Holdings, before earning the titles of executive chef and assistant general manager of cuisine for Hard Rock International. At the iconic brand’s Hollywood location, he oversaw front and back of the house operations, and applied his culinary ingenuity to the entire western region as well as Hard Rock Hotels in South America. After breaking from the Hard Rock brand, he spent a year as executive chef for Landry’s, the hospitality brand behind well-known concepts such as Morton’s The Steakhouse, Chart House, and Rainforest Café.
Upon the birth of his first child, Delgado recognized the family-friendly magnetism of the Midwest and set his sights on Chicago. He landed in the Windy City at Lawry’s in April 2016, and quickly settled into the role of creating impactful meals centered on exceptional cuts of beef served with old-fashioned class and consideration. His role also extends to the SideDoor gastropub, for which he creates a seasonally rotating menu of contemporary American pub fare.
Away from the restaurant, Delgado dabbles with music, motorcycles, and tech gadgets. He resides in the South Loop with his girlfriend, Sophia, their daughter, and a Pomeranian-Cocker Spaniel mix named Bacon.