Meet The Chef



Leigh-Ann Martin

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, I spent twenty-one carefree years on the twin islands before I moved to the U.S. the fall of 2006.

While New York City grants me the opportunity to dine out every night, to sample sweet and savory dishes and world cuisines in and around the five boroughs with a simple swipe of a Metrocard, I prefer to use the easily sourced world ingredients to create meals at home.  For that’s where it started–at home, where I began cooking for my family at the tender age of twelve years. Although my mother argues that I was ten years old when I first picked up the cooking spoon.  

The youngest of my immediate family, I grew up on the first floor of a two-family house with my Ma and two older brothers in a small village in south Trinidad called Gasparillo.  My Gramma-Lu, Aunty and older cousin lived on the second floor.  All that to say–there was always food for me to eat and a pair of eyes to ‘oversee’ my every move.  

Starting at 9AM, my Ma would give me three hours on a Sunday morning to prep ingredients bought from the local farmer’s market the day before.

Set the table with dinnerware used only for Sunday lunches (the grandest of them all), cook lunch and present the meal to the rest of my family.  It was hard, and she was hard on me, but her training me at that young age conceived the creative, disciplined and organized person I am today.

While I continue a career as an Administrative Professional, my first love of food and its creation never left and after much deliberation, I finally enrolled in culinary school!  Working full time, attending part-time classes and volunteering every chance I got at the James Beard House and at the BRC where I taught a summer class to the senior residence on eating healthy on a dime was no easy feat. But it all lead me to graduate with high honors in 2012 and now I am a proud alumna of the Institute of Culinary Education and have been a culinary professional ever since. I’ve worked with one of the industry’s leading lady chefs, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli at Butter Restaurant and The Darby Supper Club. From the time I met Alex in the pages of Art Culinaire, I knew being able to work under and learn from her would be invaluable.

Being ‘Trini-to-d-bone’, farm to table has always been the way I ate back home.  Bartering fresh fruits and vegetables grown in our yard with neighbors, cooking most snacks at home and limiting the times we purchase prepared food. Though time waits for no one, one of my missions is to re-introduce home cooking back into the lives of others, especially the average single lady or gentleman. Gasparillo Junction Blog – where my Trini upbringing meets New York City living and the creation of sexy food portioned for my amazing single life was created two year ago to showcase recipes, tips and tricks I use everyday.

When I’m not at home cooking up delicious foods for myself and friends to blog about, I’m glued to YouTube straining my eyes for hours and being persuading by all the beauty and natural hair videos. But seriously, being a chef is a great accomplishment for me, I’m constantly learning, eating delicious foods, meeting and collaborating with interesting people and creating wonderful opportunities for myself. After working at Butter Restaurant and The Darby Supper Club, I went on to curate and host an intimate pop-up dinner series called A Table For Four, creating dishes that merge my Trini upbringing with NYC’s culinary landscape. This led to me being invited to cook at events and other pop-up dinners within the New York City area, Wisconsin, London and Grenada. I’ve contributed to Ark Republic, Cooking Sense and Tenderly Magazines and my work has been highlighted in A Hungry Society, The New York Times, Vittles, Eater and The Washington Post.

I want to be your go-to chef, to breathe new life into the home cooking process, making restaurant-quality meals fun and accessible for food enthusiasts serious about getting back into the kitchen.




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