In Memoriam: Chef Leon West

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center family mourns the passing of beloved former Executive Chef Leon West. Chef Leon came on board as Executive Chef in 1984 when the newly constructed building was in use for the World’s Fair. Chef West has been recognized among his peers, both locally and internationally, as one of New Orleans’ most talented chefs.  He was known for his unique ability to adapt from small elegant functions, to dinners for over 12,000 attendees.  One memorable accomplishment was overseeing food service for a corporate event, feeding four meals to over 35,000 people in a 24 hour period.

In his 25 year career at the Convention Center, he worked on many high profile events such as political fundraisers, professional sports parties and charity dinners. He worked with nearly every professional association and tradeshow in the industry. Following Hurricane Katrina, Chef Leon played an integral role in assisting the Convention Center and the community through the recovery process. Chef Leon regularly donated his time and talents to local community organizations and received numerous professional accolades.

“Chef Leon forged a path for African-American chefs in the industry, and played an integral role in the Center’s history. He delighted visitors with his versatile talents and pleased the most discerning palates. His willingness to create the extraordinary is his legacy for all those who were fortunate to work with him or dine on his creations,” said Michael J. Sawaya, President of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Chef Leon will be fondly remembered for his dedication, willingness to create the extraordinary under extreme pressure, being well-versed in every aspect of cooking, and for mentoring future generations of hospitality professionals. Chef Leon, you will be missed!


Chef Leon West

About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, in an entirely contiguous hall, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center provides the largest single exhibit space in the country, features an award winning staff, first class amenities, and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation.  A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, the Convention Center’s event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.