There's finally a place where you can have your cake and eat it
think that good
fast food was
a good idea.
I was wrong
There is something magical about fast food. As children, we considered fast food the biggest treat imaginable. But then we grew up, and realised that most fast food doesn't make you feel good or help you live well. So, we asked ourselves: why can't fast food be good food? Henry and I opened LEON, with our friend Allegra, because we wanted to prove that it was possible to serve food that both tastes good and does you good. Naturally Fast Food.
Our menu is inspired by the flavours, variety and natural healthiness of Mediterranean cooking. Both our families have Mediterranean roots, so this is the food we grew up with. There are some dishes that evoke our childhoods in Britain, too - and even those termly trips to fast food restaurants.
We opened Leon because we wanted to prove that it was possible to serve food that both tastes good and does you good. We want to make it easy for people to eat well on the high street. We want to do this in every major city in the world.
Our vision is to make it easy for everyone to eat good food. We are currently doing this by serving fast food, but we believe that our expertise and contacts can be of use more broadly. So with the help of our Leon Bondholders, we established the Leon Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation with the overall aim of making it easier for everyone to eat good food.
In 2012 Henry and John were asked by the government to create a plan that would improve both the food eaten by school children and more broadly the food culture and food education in schools. The School Food Plan was published in July 2013. It contains 17 actions which are now being implemented, that we believe, collectively, will transform what children eat in schools and how they learn about food. If a school you know wants advice on how best to make these changes, please point them in the direction of the plan. It is a lively read and is full of practical advice. You can find, and an update on the latest progress, here.
We have worked with the wonderful Thane Prince to help children with kidney problems at Great Ormond Street and St Thomas Hospital cook food that tastes great and does them good.
Children with kidney problems have very restricted diets; they are limited in how much salt, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cheese and other dairy products they can eat. Our classes were designed to teach the children how to cook healthy and tasty food that is suitable for their restricted diets. We wanted them to know how to cook dishes that they could proudly serve to their friends - not stuff that felt as if it was for a specific medical diet. We plan to create an online video resource to make the classes more accessible to children across the country. Read more about why universal infant free school meals matter here.
The first Leon opens on Carnaby Street. The future of fast food.
Awarded "Best New Restaurant in the UK" by the Observer Food Monthly. Opens second restaurant in Ludgate Circus.
After opening in Spitalfields, Leon officially becomes a chain.
Leon starts London roll-out, opening on the Strand, Regent Street, Cannon Street and Bankside.
The first Leon Cookbook is published & Leon wins the Good Egg award.
Leon goes to it's first festival at The Big Chill & our menu items are photographed by Jason Lowe.
Publishes second Cookbook & is a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Launch of Leon collectables - mugs, trays & more. Cookbook 3, "Baking and Puddings" published.
Launch of the Leon Foundation & Leon TV
Leon "Family & Friends" published. Leon opens in transport hubs at Kings Cross and Heathrow T3.
Launch of Cook5, and Henry & John develop the School Food Plan for the DfE.
Leon: Fast Vegetarian is published. Leon opens at the Eurotunnel, High Holborn and Victoria Street.
Leon turns 10. Celebrates double digits & opens at Eurotunnel, East Midlands Airport & Heathrow T2, making travel glamorous again.
John and Henry are awarded an MBE for their work on the School Food Plan.
LEON crosses seas and open our first international restaurant in Amsterdam.