Pia León named the World’s Best Female Chef 2021

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The Peruvian chef has been recognised for her ascent to the top of the gastronomic world in Latin America and beyond, writes Tina Nielsen

The chef-owner of Lima restaurant Kjolle, León also co-owns Central with her husband fellow chef Virgilio Martínez. More recently they have established Mil, a restaurant situated at 3,500m above sea level in Cuzco, which also serves as a research, development and interpretation centre.

León was previously named Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2018, an accolade that honours the achievements and impact of a female chef in the region and her contribution to Latin America’s gastronomic scene. Kjolle also received the Highest New Entry Award on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list when, just 15 months after opening, it debuted at No.21.

“It is an honour to name Pía León as The World’s Best Female Chef 2021. Her dedication to gender parity in her kitchen and her passion for using the indigenous ingredients of her country have set a benchmark for others,” says William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “We don’t doubt that Pía’s work will be game-changing for the future of gastronomy and will contribute to helping more women succeed in some of the world’s best kitchens.”

Championing ingredients of Peru

Kjolle is León’s first solo endeavour: launched in the Peruvian capital three years ago, the restaurant eschews a set menu to create dishes that express her own culinary personality in accordance with seasonal ingredients and the indigenous food of the region. The name Kjolle itself is taken from a local orange flower that grows at high altitude. The restaurant, along with Central, reflects León and Martínez’s vision to showcase some of Peru’s lesser-known and indigenous ingredients, many of which are utilised in their menus.

León says: “The most positive thing that came out of such exceptional and difficult [recent] times is that I have been able to continue working with a team of people who are first-class human beings. They will see this award, as I do, as a great indication that we are on the right track for the future.” 

The World’s Best Female Chef Award, sponsored by Nude Glass, forms part of the forthcoming programme for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, with the main awards ceremony due to take place in Antwerp, Flanders in October this year.

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