Leon was born in Maastricht, Netherlands. After Hotel management College he became a chef working in some of Europe’s finest restaurants. Later he ran his own restaurant called Bellefroid. In 2001 he moved to London to set up a fine food wholesale company selling to the top restaurants in the UK. In 2006 after becoming member of a club of social entrepreneurs Leon decided it was time to give back and use his skills to serve his vision; Nobody to bed Hungry. In 2009 he founded Extraordinary Ones a simple concept where every time you eat you feed a child at the same time.
Please tell us a bit of your earlier years – 20 to 35
When I was 19 I became a chef by ‘accident’. I attend the hotel college to do something in management. Since a child I had been looking at something I could excel at: be No. 1 and when I found cooking I intuitively knew that was it. The next 15 years are history and I worked very successfully in some of the best restaurants as chef and head chef. It taught me many things, not just cooking but also how important it is to achieve mastery in everything you do and how you can use that in other areas of your life.
Please share any rude awakenings or revelations around your midpoint of life
That was an interesting time. I was running our fine food wholesale business and decided to life a live fully in my purpose. In our industry that was difficult as I realised my values had gone to the next level. It was a time when I looked who I really was as a person and the legacy I like to leave. Be the best dad I can be for my children.
What did you change in your life around this ‘midpoint of life’?
We sold our wholesale business, did a lot of development and started working on social projects and eventually setting up Extraordinary Ones and now also Ollin Opes.
Any lessons learnt during this time?
Many many lessons which is very interesting, the most important one, everything you need is already there for you. It is in You.
Have you seen other guys making your errors that you’d love to talk to them about?
Errors is not the word I normally use. I see people having life lessons. Most of the time this is because they are stuck. When you are stuck you try to hold onto something and the more you hold on, the more something gets stagnant, you block flow. When you hold on to things desperately you cant move forward and things don’t happen for you.
How is your personal life different now than to what it was on your 20s?
My life is a lot richer now, we have 2 children, a great family and circle of friends who fulfil and challenge me.
What are you most active in now?
I am most active in fulfilling my life purpose Nobody To Bed Hungry and building Extraordinary Ones and connecting with great people.
Which part/s of your life is different now than when in your 20’s?
I believe it is all at a higher level as I understand myself now better and allow myself to be me.
How is your business and/or professional life different now than to what it was on your 20s?
Then I was a chef and restaurant owner now I also do what I love but I run my life – my business or job don’t run my life.
“do you have different values?”
“if so, tell us about the differences”
What are 2-3 life experiences you would love to share today?
The biggest lesson in life must be that every thing we need or looking for is within us. The outside world is a reflection of the world within us.