Nyesha Arrington

Chef & Food Consultant

Nyesha Arrington is on a never-ending quest for that perfect bite, one that hugs the soul and stays with you long after it leaves the plate. This journey has taken her from her classic French training at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles, to the iconic restaurants of Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, to the sets of Top Chef, Knife Fight and Iron Chef America. She’s been a driving force in the LA dining scene since opening Leona in 2015, earning her Eater LA’s Chef of the Year and praise from the late, great Jonathan Gold. Since leaving Leona in 2017, she’s been a restaurant consultant for model Tyra Banks and run a pop-up in Hong Kong. Her next project will take her to New York to film a TV pilot with Eater.

Creativity has always been at the core of what Nyesha does. She is addicted to the process of watching something evolve from start to finish. Growing up in a multicultural musical family, she painted, sculpted and photographed the world around her. But from a young age, food has been her ultimate art form.

Why We Love Nyesha Arrington

Nyesha wants her food to feel like a hug from the inside. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about taking raw ingredients and creating a work of art—really, really delicious art.

“Every single day that I’ve walked on planet Earth, I’ve done what I can to learn everything in my field and be the best that I can be.”

“When people eat the dish, and they smile or close their eyes, I live for that moment. I want to do that every day, all day.”

6 Questions with Nyesha Arrington

  1. Where does your spirit of adventure come from?

    I’ve always had wanderlust, ever since I was a kid. To this day I don’t think my dad has been on a plane. We were a very blue collar family, we didn’t have it bad but we didn't have much. I’m grateful for my childhood, but I always knew I wanted to see more of the world. I think it's because I was exposed to so many diverse flavors as a young person, that really sparked the spirit of travel in me. My grandmother is from Korea. Tasting those flavors as a young African American kid really excited my palette. Throughout all of my life, I’ve really valued the ideal of a global perspective.

  2. You've spent time living outside of the United States, in the Virgin Islands. How did that experience influence you?

    A lot of times in America, we have these concepts of ‘bigger better’ and ‘faster faster.’ We don’t connect as much at the dinner table, we don’t celebrate the artisans and farmers. When I lived in the Virgin Islands, I was coming out of fine dining and Michelin kitchens. It was my first experience with learning how to live. I was immersed in this island culture of celebrating life and not stressing. I had to learn how to adapt, how to truly live that island life. When I came back to the U.S., it created a robust conversation about being able to manage people. Because everybody is conditioned differently. Being able to manage those teams, and adapt the island lifestyle of a young American girl always on the go in these fine-dining restaurants, I had to learn a new set of skills and awareness. And I've always valued that.

  3. You’ve said it’s not fun for you to do the same thing every day. What pushes you to the next thing and to try something new?

    I love life, I love the idea of seizing the day! I keep learning life lessons. I’m resilient, I guess. I’m a firm believer in failing upwards.

  4. What's one of your favorite food memories?

    Israel. The food was epic. I’m usually on a plant-based diet, but when I was in Israel I ate everything. It was soul enriching. I loved meeting the chefs and hearing their stories. I remember eating falafel on the streets of Tel Aviv, graffiti everywhere, my hands covered in tahini sauce… I love those kinds of food memories, those special little moments in time.

  5. What gets you the most excited about Morocco?

    Food is my craft and love language, so I'm really excited to taste the tagines, see the rich vibrant colors. The textures and patterns. I’m also fascinated with the story behind argan oil. It’s so rare and precious, one of the most expensive oils in the world, and I’m looking forward to meeting the producers. And of course the food: the tagines and spices… I can’t wait to experience Morocco through the lens of food, for sure. I can’t wait to experience all of it and connect with the culture, landscapes and especially the people.

  6. Let's end with a question everybody is asking: what's on the menu today at your house?

    Wow, good question! Here's my honest answer. I had some tea and a gigantic glass of water, then I had some hummus I made yesterday with celery in it. And now, I’m preparing my lunch and dinner. I’m soaking wild rice and I have leftover chickpeas from yesterday, so I’m going to make some sort of delicious stew. And I’ve had a banana. And now I’ve just cut a guava open, so I’m looking at this half of a guava... I have a cutting board in my kitchen, so I just put things on it, and snack on them throughout the day.

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Peru with Traci Des Jardins & Enrique Sanchez

The best of Peru with Traci Des Jardins & Enrique Sanchez. Ancient Incan culture, Michelin-star cuisine and colorful food markets, hikes through Sacred Valley villages up into the sheer audaciousness of Machu Picchu. This is the Peru of your dreams.

Provence with Junior Borges

From buzzing cities to bucolic countryside, this is an immersive expedition into the heart of Provence, one of France's most storied food and wine regions. Join us for a true feast for the senses alongside Junior Borges.

Oaxaca with Diego Galicia & Rico Torres

Explore food, art and culture with chefs Diego Galicia and Rico Torres. Oaxaca packs in so much of the complex, fascinating culture of Mexico and we'll experience it all—at artist studios, ancient ruins, local markets, street-food stands and hacienda hotels.