Los Angeles is home to many well-established and recognized restaurants, making it a major foodie destination. Also making L.A. home is celebrated chef Joshua Skenes, who is known for founding Saison, a once three-Michelin-star restaurant (now a very honorable two-star Michelin spot). With a rich culinary resume, Skenes is set to further impress with his new, casual L.A. restaurant, Leopardo, which opened May 14. 

Skenes’ culinary skills attracted attention when he opened his first restaurant in 2009 in the Mission District of San Francisco. He eventually found a permanent home in the South of Market neighborhood. It didn’t take long for this culinary mastermind to earn a lifetime’s worth of the food world’s highest honors. Skenes is respected for forging a fire-based culinary pathway unique enough to be called Skenesian. 

With unquestionable cooking talent, Skenes has led the founder’s Saison restaurant to reach number 27 on the World’s 50 Best restaurants. But that is not the only feather in this chef’s hat. On the ground floor of the Beverly Center in L.A., Skenes opened his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant, Angler, before he parted ways with his former restaurant group. Despite this restaurant’s struggles with running during the global pandemic with dining regulations, Angler was still considered one of the top L.A. food destinations. 

While Skenes still hopes to open an exclusive ranch restaurant where he will serve wild-caught food, next up on this chef’s list is Leopardo, offering the best ingredients with sheer simplicity. The chef said, “We want to use incredible local products that nobody uses, like the ocean tilefish. It’s so delicious and crave-able — we just treat it really well with good buttery olive oil, lemon, salt, [and] seasoning.” Through specific sources, Leopardo’s menu will reflect the changes of what the daily catch brings in, opening cooking opportunities for Dungeness crab with mafaldine pasta, grilled whitefish, spot prawn crudo, or sea urchin. 

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Yet, despite the delicious dishes from fresh sources, one menu item at Leopardo that Skenes and his team have worked tirelessly on was pizza, a dish that has already gone through hundreds of variations. Skenes plans to serve this popular dish in different styles that range from puffy-crusted neo-Neapolitan style to something Skenes calls “neo-Minato,” a reference to the pizzas found at the Tokyo district’s famed pizzerias. 

Skenes remarked, “The gluten is beautifully gelatinized, and the crust is very light despite being very big. You could put a whole pie away yourself. And it retains sweetness because it doesn’t become a sourdough, despite long fermentation.”

At the heart of Skene’s mission at Leopardo is ensuring people have a good time and raising diners’ awareness that the quality of ingredients used at Leopardo’s is on par with that of his other restaurants. With subtle references to his previous establishments, this culinary master endeavors to make Leopardo and its food stand on their own, and Skenes, with a name that manifests a big draw, wants to shadow himself from the project as much as possible and refer to himself and Leopardo partner on the website as “anonymous pizza lovers.”