Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Story by Jeanette Wages
Photography by Jonathan Thorpe
Even in an area rich in history, we often forget that there are living descendants of that history living here in Alexandria. Sommelier Leonard Holton, owner and Chef at Magnolia’s on King is the 4th generation great grandson of Solomon Northup, who many know from the memoir and movie 12 Years a Slave. Chef Leo is both very aware and proud of this legacy and it shows in how he lives his life today. “I own a restaurant in the area where my great grandfather was kidnapped and taken as a slave. It’s kind of amazing.” At the time, Northup could have only dreamed of a day when this could be possible.
Lifestyle Choice: Chef Leo is a Vegan
Even for Chef Leo, the path into restaurant ownership was not one he had expected. He had originally gone to school for biology with aspirations to work as a marine biologist. He had also considered training for the US Olympic swim team, a dream he sometimes wondered if he should have chased. But Chef Leo found his way into being a chef-owner while working as a consultant in the restaurant industry. The opportunity to partner with the owner of Magnolia’s came as a surprise but one Chef Leo was more than happy to be a part of. Now living his best life as a restauranteur with his husband and two cats, he knows life turned out the way it was always supposed to.
Next Interesting Man of Alexandria 2020 → Michael Aristo Leonard II