The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 today reveals the winner of The World’s Best Female Chef Award, sponsored by Nude Glass, as Leonor Espinosa, chef-owner of Leo in Bogotá.
Previously named Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2017, Espinosa has become one of the most important personalities in Colombia through her hard and consistent work, not only celebrating local Colombian products and flavours but highlighting the value of the country’s biodiversity and social aspects of gastronomy.
A key figure in Colombia’s food renaissance, Espinosa relocated and reimagined her flagship restaurant just last year and it was subsequently voted No.46 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021. At the new venue, Espinosa has crafted a tasting menu with 100% of the ingredients sourced within Colombia and each dish forming part of a broader Colombian food narrative. The gastronomic experience focuses on the country’s varied ecosystems, exploring the ways new species can be utilised in the kitchen.
In 2008, Espinosa founded the non-profit Funleo with her daughter, Laura Hernández-Espinosa, Leo’s head sommelier. The mother-and-daughter team have helped to unveil some of the secrets of indigenous ingredients and ancestral techniques providing inspiration for Leo’s unique menus. Today, Funleo continues to identify, reclaim and promote the culinary traditions of rural and ethnic communities while promoting their wellbeing and health, with programmes enhancing the use of autochthonous ingredients across the country and empowering the groups towards food sovereignty. Each ingredient’s origin is highlighted on Leo’s menu, such as pulantana from the desert and cacay and cnopio from the Andean foothills.
Aside from running Leo and Funleo, Espinosa has helped build support for the establishment of a Comprehensive Gastronomy Centre in Golfo de Tribugá as an alternative framework for people affected by or involved in drug trafficking, and has also campaigned to raise awareness on Colombia’s culinary riches, with her work encouraging communities to turn their cultural heritage into a tool for socio-economic development.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “Leonor Espinosa has become one of the most iconic Latin American chefs of her generation, championing both Colombia’s biodiversity and its cultural diversity like no other. We’re thrilled to be able to recognise her incredible work.”
The Best Female Chef Award series continues to recognise industry-leading female chefs blazing a trail for their peers.