Leondra Clayton is originally from the Bronx and lived in Harlem for about 10-12 years. She came to Taos just over a years ago and started a catering business. Leondra has been doing catering in Taos and doing business as Lee Cooks Church. She started the company about a decade ago, in 2011. However, Leondra didn't want to open a restaurant until she had a dream about it last year. The dream was about opening a restaurant called Church as she has a history of growing up in the church. Since then, Leondra decided to offer Sunday dinners, and that's what she has been doing since July 2020.
About LeeCooks Church
As mentioned earlier, Leondra's business is called Lee Cooks Church, and she established her business in 2011. Leondra has been cooking from a young age when she was only 13 years old. However, she started cooking professionally in 2009 when she went to a culinary program in Manhattan for ten months. Lee then continued on to work for various restaurants.
Leondra's Food Specialization
Leondra specializes in various types of dishes, from soul food to vegan dishes vegetarian delicacies. Overall, she likes to cook all kinds of cuisines and calls herself a global cook. She cooks a blend of soul food, Caribbean and Asian Fusion with the menu based on a church program. Currently, Leondra cooks from home and does a drop off at Smith's. So, for now, Lee Cooks Church operates as a pickup type of business.
Why She Chose Taos for the Business
According to Leondra, Taos is a place for the artists, for people with different gifts. Hence, she decided to launch this business in town because she wants to share her talents and skills like other artists are doing in Taos. Leandra intends to add more merchandise and branch out to different areas for her business's future.
How Leondra has been Integrating Taos with her Culture
As a woman of color, Leondra started the Lee Cooks Church business with the idea of cooking the meals she ate after Sunday service. Coming to Taos, she saw that the eating culture here was very different, and most people weren't exposed to soul foods or Caribbean food. As a result, she has had to be creative and diversify her menu to fit what people are used to in town and introduce her customers to something new. However, she does try her best to retain the originality of her cooking style. She hopes that her food gives people a different feeling, something different from the usual. That's why she stopped working at restaurants to work more on her creativity and craft.
Her Experience in Taos
Being both a businessperson and a person of color, Leondra shares that people here have accepted her and her business with open arms. Although she gets most of her business from Texans and people who have lived in New York, she hasn't experienced any prejudice since she came to Taos.Besides that, Leondra is more focused on her business and pushing it forward. Her goal from here is to get back to doing events and selling merchandise, among other things. According to her, she is offering many people something that they are not familiar with in Taos. Ultimately, she understands even if people don't get her, she still strives to push her goals forward.