Chef Leonor Espinosa, from restaurant Leo in Bogotá, Colombia, has won the Estrella Damm Chefs' Choice Award 2020 in The Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 list. The award "recognises an individual who has gained the respect of their peers for their inspirational work and leadership in the hospitality sector."
Espinosa, the first female to win the award, is known for her pioneering work promoting Colombian culinary traditions with her non-profit organisation FunLeo (Fundación Leo Espinosa). She also showcases little-known Colombian ingredients on her ‘cycle-biome’ menu at her Leo restaurant, which sits at no.8 on the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list.
“I can’t express the gratitude I feel to be recognised by my peers, which is one of the greatest honours,” says Espinosa. “While some traditional foods remain prevalent in Colombia, others have been lost over our history. For many years my mission has been to increase the value of these foods and local ingredients to help restore culinary traditions and national pride.”
Former recipients of the prize include Tomás Kalika of Mishiguene in Argentina (2019), Carlos García of Alto in Venezuela (2018), Germán Martitegui of Tegui in Argentina (2017) and Guillermo González Beristáin of Pangea in Mexico (2016).