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Food Network star, pitmaster Dominique Leach brings her famous BBQ to Chicago South Side restaurant

Pitmaster Dominique Leach brings famous BBQ pullman restaurant
Pitmaster Dominique Leach brings famous BBQ pullman restaurant 04:44

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In honor of Women's History Month, Foodie Friday is highlighting female chefs. 

After appearing as a contestant and a judge on the Food Network, in addition to working through some of the most prestigious restaurants in the city, Dominique Leach is now known for her own - Lexington Betty Smokehouse located in the Pullman neighborhood.

Leach at the beginning of her day before it gets hectic, she's at home with her wife, Tanisha, and their very spoiled dog, Bella.

In their house, it's easy to forget who the famous one is. 

But soon, Chef Leach will have to say bye to Bella as she heads out to her restaurant, Lexington Betty Smokehouse, where there's no question about who the star of the show is. 

"When I'm at the restaurant, there's not a day that goes by that someone doesn't want to take a picture or talk about the show, so many people come in and congratulate me, and it feels so good because it's just not anything that I had imagined for myself," Lech said. 

From "Chopped" to "Fire Masters" and "Barbecue Brawl," Chef Leach has solidified herself as a Food Network regular. Making Lexington Betty Smokehouse a destination for foodies, meat lovers, and barbeque connoisseurs - both around the city and outside of it.

"I mean, that's been really one of the most rewarding parts of this… being celebrated in my community," Lech said. 

"I feel like I have arrived. Yeah, and for that reason, I like to just be clear to people that I didn't wake up like this. You know, it took a lot of tenacity.

At one point, there were three Lexington Betty locations.

"And it got the attention of our show on the Food Network Canada," Leach said. 

With new attention came more travel, more accolades, and more publicity, but less time in the restaurants.

"It took a lot of energy to run and operate three locations, especially to cook food and separate it between three locations," she said. 

During the pandemic, Chef Leach decided to consolidate them all into one space.

With their growing popularity, the apparent downsize may have seemed backward at the time

"I felt really detached from the business, and it wasn't easy. So when I got back from Canada, we decided that we just wanted more work-life balance, and the timing really lined up," Lech said. 

Able to focus their attention on one Lexington Betty, as opposed to three, Chef Leach had the space to branch out and begin refining her own brand - releasing a product line, hosting events, and returning to the Food Network.

"When you're just trying to navigate day by day through Chicago, a lot of times you can't think about what your future is going to look like because you're trying to survive the current day, so I really feel really fortunate that I can be celebrated at this capacity because, the young me, just didn't dream this big," she said. 

Chef Leach has grown to become one of the more recognizable chefs in the city. 

She also hosts events and pop-ups, but the best way to get to know Leach is by swinging by her house - her smokehouse located at 756 E. 111th Street. 

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