LL Dent Restaurant is living realization of a life-long dream of co-owners Lillian Dent and her daughter Chef Leisa Dent. Leisa Dent was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Long Island 30 years ago. She is the third child of Toby and Lillian Dent. Toby and Lillian had relocated to Long Island, New York from Evans, Georgia, a small close-knit southern community. They had met at the Mount Olive Baptist Church and became grade school sweethearts.
Leisa's instinct for good homemade food began at an early age. Lillian made it a point to cook a hot breakfast for her children before school everyday, knowing that it would help prepare them for a better education. However, one day she overslept and served cold cereal, an event met with a chorus of disapproval from the family that loved her home-made food, and one not to be repeated.
To make ends meet, Toby worked two jobs and Lillian also re-entered the workforce after the children were old enough, even going back to school to earn a Bachelor's Degree. Naturally, Lillian and Toby depended on their children to handle chores around the house.
At age 10, Leisa's first dish was a fried pork chop sandwich, which she asked her neighbor to taste, but it was quickly devoured. Inspired by her mother and father along with summer trips to visit her grandparents in the south, Leisa enjoyed the shift of food preparation responsibilities. In a role reversal, it would be mom who was responsible for the dishes. Some of Leisa's favorite dishes included slab bacon and grits, fried green tomatoes, fried catfish, pulled pork, collard greens, cornbread and sweet potato pie.
However, pursuing a career in cooking was not readily apparent to Leisa, instead it was a hobby, one of the happy things in life. After graduating from Roosevelt High School and BOCES, majoring in classical cuisine and catering, she began working at Cooky's Steak Pub in Hempstead. Wanting to pursue a career in the rapidly developing computer field, and not yet realizing she could actually make a living from something so enjoyable, she enrolled in Howard University, majoring in Computer Science. Living off campus, she took on the responsibility of cooking for her housemates. However, Leisa decided against a career in computers and returned to Long Island to work in the restaurant industry.
In 1983, she left Cooky's to work for Eddie Murphy as his personal chef in both Englewood, New Jersey and Hollywood, California. Murphy was a childhood friend who visited the Dent's home often, where Leisa would be cooking meals for her friends. For him, Leisa's cooking represented the home-style excellence he longed for.
Leisa returned from Hollywood to pursue a chef/management position at Saks Fifth Avenue and Arizona 206 in New York City, and then for the Mariott Corporation in Uniondale. In 1990, she completed her formal training as a chef, earning an Associate's Degree, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She later relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where she served as a Chef Supervisor and then as Executive Chef for Sodexho-Marriott and its client, Georgia Pacific. In 2003, she transferred back home, working for Sodexho's client the United States Merchant Marine Academy as a Marketing Manager.
With over 30 years of experience cooking and extensive management experience, Leisa and her mother, Lillian, have created LL Dent Restaurant on Long Island, their vision of home-style American cuisine with a southern flair.
Chef Leisa’s Recipes