Leonard Hollander joined Marion Street Cheese Market as Executive Chef in spring 2009. Under his direction, the Cheese Market Bistro has become a hot spot for creative and unique cuisine that is carefully crafted and responsibly sourced. MSCM was recently (October 2012) awarded Bib Gourmand status by the Michelin Guide. Chef Hollander was also the winner of the 2011 Goose Island/Whole Foods Chicago Chef Battle and has been recognized in Chicago Magazine’s Top 50 Best Sandwiches issue (November 2012).
Leonard grew up in Northern Kentucky, a suburb surrounding the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. After graduating from college with a degree in Business Administration and Computer Science, he began a career on the corporate ladder as a systems engineer. He soon realized he needed a creative outlet and so he began taking evening classes at a local culinary institute. With this exposure to the culinary world, his interest was piqued, leading him to leave his corporate career to take a job as a line cook in a Southern-American style restaurant in 2003. It was within this role that he recognized his true love and passion for the culinary arts, and he began his professional career in the field. He gained experience through work in multiple Cincinnati restaurants and began teaching culinary classes around the city as well. Before coming to Chicago, he and his wife lived in Los Angeles where he spent time experiencing and working within the West Coast culinary and wine scenes. For the past several years, Leonard has made Chicago his home, passionately pursuing culinary experiences, working and staging with some of the most prestigious chefs and fine dining establishments in the city, including Ambria and Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel.
The menus that Leonard creates for Marion Street Cheese Market change to reflect the seasons as well as the relationships and inspirations for which an ever-evolving food mind forever searches. High quality, delicious products are at the root of what the finest chefs in the world create and Leonard follows this path. Chef Hollander tirelessly guides his kitchen team to a deeper understanding of how and why they cook and this care translates to the inspired dishes served to guests every day. Many of the skills, talents, and even obsessions stemming from his background as a systems engineer have stayed with Leonard into the kitchen where he seeks to preserve the voice and flavor of individual ingredients, in turn creating dishes whose whole is a perfect blending, greater than the sum of its parts.