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Colombia’s Leonor Espinosa named the 2022 World’s Best Female Chef

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As this year’s celebrations of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants approach, one of Latin America’s most celebrated chefs is the first special award announcement

Espinosa, long considered one of the most significant people in Colombia’s food renaissance, has been an ambassador for her country’s gastronomy for a long time, as she has travelled the world on a mission to elevate Colombia’s culinary standing in the world.

Alongside her culinary work in the fine dining restaurant in the Colombian capital, Espinosa – originally an economist and artist – has blazed a trail for indigenous producers through the non-profit FunLeo, which she launched with her daughter Laura Hernández-Espinosa in 2008. Through social projects and investigations of the country’s ecosystems and staggering biodiversity the organisation lifts up remote parts of the country.

“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,” says Espinosa.

An iconic chef

Espinosa was previously named Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2017 and her restaurant Leo in Bogotá currently sits in 46th place in the listing of the World’s Best Restaurants.

“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,” says William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “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.”

Espinosa will receive the award at this year’s celebrations, taking place in London after the conflict in Ukraine forced a rescheduling from the original location of Moscow.

Tina Nielsen