What do food awards convey about human history and culture? If one is to go by the top chef ranking released this week by The World’s Best Female Chefs 2022, it would point towards cooking with a conscience to make deep social impact. Now, it’s not enough to run an exclusive restaurant with an infallible tasting menu.
On Tuesday, Colombia’s Leonor Espinosa was named world’s number one female chef by the prestigious list. The 59-year old owns the premium dining space Leo in Bogotá, Colombia. It has appeared in the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants for serving regional specialties of Colombia with ingredients such as ants, shrimps and wild rodent. She is believed to be the first chef to modernise Colombian cuisine. Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world and the chef showcases its rich and diverse produce on her menu.
Apart from the restaurant, she runs the Leo Espinosa Foundation, known as FUNLEO, to preserve gastronomic traditions and biodiversity, while helping more than 80 local communities of Colombia. The local produce is packaged and sold which provides financial security. Drug production and trafficking were rampant among the rural communities who benefitted from her organisation by moving to cultivation as well as selling of local foods, reports a story published on NPR.org in 2018.
An article titled, Leonor Espinosa puts Colombia on the global culinary map as The World’s Best Female Chef 2022, on theworlds50best.com, traces her professional journey. She was an advertising professional who quit the corporate life at the age of 35 to delve into her cuisine. In the article, she is quoted as saying, “A lot of things converged to show me that the true path to artistic expression was cuisine.” She believes food is political and her advice to young female chefs is to believe in their dreams.
Also read | Meet the chef who won back the Michelin star for Benares