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Colombia’s Leonor Espinosa named World’s Best Female Chef

The chef-owner of Leo in Bogotá takes the title, which is voted for by experts from across the globe

Leonor Espinosa, chef-owner of Leo in Bogotá, has been named The World’s Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022.

Previously recognised as Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2017, Espinosa has become one of the most important personalities in Colombia, with a focus on celebrating and promoting local Colombian products and flavours and 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 last year in the upmarket Chapinero district of Bogotá. At the new venue, Espinosa has crafted a tasting menu with 100% of the ingredients sourced within the country and each dish forming part of a broader Colombian food narrative. The gastronomic experience is inspired by Espinosa’s ‘Ciclo-Bioma’ concept, which focuses on the country’s varied ecosystems and explores the ways new species can be utilised in the kitchen.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants director of content William Drew said: “Leonor Espinosa has become one of the most iconic Latin American chefs of her generation, championing both her country’s biodiversity and its cultural diversity like no other. Combining extensive scientific research with culinary innovation, she is a self-taught chef who continues to seek new knowledge, as well as to educate others. We’re thrilled to be able to recognise her incredible work with this important award.”

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Espinosa opened her eponymous restaurant, originally called Leo, but known as Leo Cocina y Cava, in 2005, with a fusion of traditional and modern Colombian cooking. Returning to its original name in 2015, the restaurant has cemented its place as one of the best dining destinations in the region, ranking No.46 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021.

In 2008, Espinosa founded the non-profit Funleo with her daughter, Laura Hernández-Espinosa, who is also Leo’s head sommelier. The mother-and-daughter team have helped to unveil some of the secrets of indigenous ingredients and ancestral techniques that provide inspiration for Leo’s unique menus.

Espinosa said: “I receive this award with great joy because now my voice can be heard a little more, which will allow me to continue basing gastronomy as a prevailing instrument in the generation of socioeconomic well-being, especially in developing countries.”

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 ceremony will take place at Old Billingsgate market in London on 18 July.

For more information, visit www.theworlds50best.com

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