Chef Leonor Espinosa: Colombian ingredients, local communities and gastronomic traditions


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Leonor Espinosa has become one of the most important personalities in Colombia through her hard and consistent work not only celebrating and promoting local Colombian products and flavors, but also highlighting the value of the country’s biodiversity and the social aspects of  gastronomy. Her proposal aims to vindicate local ingredients and traditions from Colombia and each dish as part of a broader gastronomic narrative based on sustainability, offering an  experience focused on the country’s varied ecosystems exploring the ways in which new species can be used for culinary purposes.

Combining extensive scientific research with culinary innovation, she is a self-taught chef who continues to seek new insights as well as to educate others through her Foundation Funleo, a nonprofit organization dedicated to  generating social welfare in rural ethnic communities that led her to deserve the Basque  Culinary World Prize in 2017. Leonor Espinosa Leonor studied Plastic Arts at the School of Fine Arts in Cartagena de Indias and Economics at the  Technological University of Bolívar.

After studying economics and fine arts, and working as an advertising executive, she felt the need to satisfy her creative spirit through gastronomy. In 2005, she opened the restaurant that bears her name, where she fuses the traditional and modern. In 2015, Leo established itself as one of the best gastronomic destinations in the region.

Leonor Espinosa was recently named the Best Female Chef in the World by The World’s 50 Best  Restaurants in 2022 and her restaurant LEO for the past two years has featured on this  prestigious list, ranking No. 48 in its latest 2022 edition. For eight years it has also been  included in the 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America, a list that has also earned her the award for Best Chef in Latin America in 2017 and the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award in 2020.
Other recognitions obtained include having ranked 69th in the Top 100 The Best Chefs Awards 2022, and No. 5 in Travelers’ Choice Winners Trip Advisor 2020.

She has several publications, including “Leo El Sabor”, a book where she recounts stories from ancestral stoves and captures a modern vision through her experience in seven Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities; and, “Lo Que Cuenta el Caldero”, a book about her travels around the country told through magical and realistic culinary chronicles.



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