Food has played a major role in Leonardo Lopez’s life since childhood. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Lopez spent many of his childhood years in Zacatecas, Mexico, surrounded by family and a love for shared dishes. Some of his fondest memories include his mother cooking holiday meals, with the delicious smell of cinnamon, anise and orange floating through the household and driving him straight to the kitchen. It is no wonder that Lopez grew up to pursue a career in preparing and sharing food for loved ones and strangers alike.
Armed with an Associate of Science Degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of California, Lopez has more than 12 years of kitchen management experience in both fine and casual dining environments, and is trained in California, Asian and Mexican cuisine -- an homage to both his home state and his upbringing. Lopez started his career in restaurant hospitality as a line cook at Yi Cuisine, under the auspices of Chef Rodelio Aglibot. Working his way up the ladder, Lopez soon found himself working with two of the most prominent and influential culinary figures in Los Angeles – Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken – as a Sous Chef at Border Grill, where he managed all kitchen functions, prepared executive corporate menus and trained and developed all staff. The role set the foundation for the Executive Chef roles he desired, and he brought his talent and leadership to the Tavistock Group, first as an Executive Sous Chef at Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, CA, and then to California Cafe in Los Gatos, CA, as the Executive Chef, where he developed menus using local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients five times a year. Most recently, Lopez was the Executive Chef at Palisade Restaurants in Seattle, WA, where he managed and trained a staff of more than 40 team members, developed an Executive Sous Chef into a Chef position and created a seasonally inspired menu every 10 weeks focusing on local and seasonal produce.
Now, Lopez is back in his hometown of Los Angeles, where he joined The Proud Bird as Executive Chef in 2017. A firm but fair manager, Lopez aims to lead by example and teach by heart. The hustle and bustle of travel drew him to the major travel center, and the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world serves as his inspiration in this new role. The ability to make a connection with a stranger through food and to impart an impression on another based on their dining experience serves as fuel to constantly deliver excellence to his guests. At The Proud Bird, Lopez is in charge of the full scope of the dining experience at the Food Bazaar, where guests will be able to enjoy dishes inspired by global cuisine under one roof.
A family guy through and through, Lopez enjoys spending time with his family, including his young daughter, when he is not serving up delicious meals at The Proud Bird. Having grown up listening to regional Mexican music made an impact on his tastes and preferences, and he is also a fan of jazz and the blues. Lopez also studies the art of boxing, often reviewing classic and recent boxing matches in his down time.
Growing up in West Bloomfield, Michigan, Adam Fischer always had a vision of leading and coaching a large group of like-minded people working towards a unified goal. Armed with a passion for the culinary world and an interest in how deeply rooted food is in our everyday lives, Fischer has carved a path for himself that is reflective of his pride in delivering an excellent experience while bringing people together.
Fischer began his career in restaurant hospitality as a stock boy at a local fine wine and liquor store. While working towards his liberal arts degree at Oakland Community College, he was quickly promoted to store manager, kickstarting his long and illustrious career as a hands-on manager and leader. Shortly thereafter, Fischer accepted a position with Taco Bell as an assistant manager, and within six months was promoted to General Manager, going on to win the corporation’s General Manager of the Year Award. Seeking new ways to challenge himself, Fischer took his skills to Michigan’s largest multi-brand restaurant group, Schostak Family Restaurants, where he oversaw the larger Detroit market as District Manager. In his four years with the brand, he was the recipient of numerous awards including top sales, lowest turnover, highest earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA), and was named District Manager of the Year.
Wanting to move to warmer climates, Fischer relocated to Orange County, California, in 2003 and took on the role of New Concept Developer for El Pollo Loco. Under his leadership, the company formed a new cooking platform for upcoming franchise locations, a process that is still utilized today at all new El Pollo Loco concept launches. This experience opened his eyes to a full-service career and led Fischer to Romano’s Macaroni Grill where he quickly moved through the ranks to become the Regional Director of Catering, managing the daily operations of nine restaurants and developing multiple hourly employees into managers through careful training and guidance.
Over the last nine years, Fischer has called Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) his home base, spending two years at HMS Host as Terminal Manager, where he oversaw operations for several brands, including Brioche Bar, Chili’s, On the Border and Starbucks Coffee while managing $26 million in food and beverage sales. Most recently, he served as the Regional General Manager at Areas USA, where he opened 19 diverse concepts while overseeing $55 million in food, retail and beverage sales.
Fischer joined The Proud Bird in 2017, where he supervises the food bazaar and events center as the General Manager and will play a vital role in the development of staff, sales and operations for the reimagined food hall. Having spent several years surrounded by tourists, vacationers and businesspeople on the go, Fischer brings with him a passion for flight and travel. One of his favorite parts of being surrounded by travelers is constantly meeting and hearing stories from people all over the world. When Fischer is not at The Proud Bird, he enjoys spending time with his family and close friends. He is also an avid time piece collector, with a number watches and pocket watches to his name paired with a deep understanding that time and passion are one’s most valuable assets in life.