Leonor Espinosa – chef of Leo in Bogotá, Colombia, and founder of the non-profit FunLeo (Fundación Leo Espinosa) – is the recipient of the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2020. Voted for by chefs of The Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 list, the award recognizes an individual who has gained the respect of their peers for their inspirational work and leadership in the hospitality sector.
Espinosa, who won the Latin America’s Best Female Chef Award in 2017, is renowned for her pioneering work to revive Colombian culinary traditions and for using food to promote cultural and social development in indigenous, afro-descendant, and rural communities. At Leo – ranked No.8 on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 – Espinosa showcases little-known Colombian ingredients as part of her innovative ‘cyclo-biome’ menu concept, which explores Colombian ecosystems, seasons and species.
“I’m incredibly grateful to be recognized by my peers, which is one of the greatest honors,” says Espinosa. “While some traditional foods remain prevalent in Colombia, others have been lost over our history. For years my mission has been to increase the value of these foods and local ingredients to help restore culinary traditions and national pride.”
The Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award is the fourth of a series of special awards announced in advance of the announcement of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which aim to support the sector across the region amid one of the most challenging times for the global restaurant industry. Espinosa was further honored at the virtual countdown of the list that took place on December 3.
To spotlight the region’s diverse gastronomic scene and support its recovery, Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants will also present El Espíritu de América Latina, a collection of casual restaurants that have had a positive impact on their communities. To be announced on 24th November, this unranked collection will sit alongside the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants to raise awareness of the broader range of local restaurants that represent the spirit of Latin American cuisine.
The Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award is the only prize voted for by the chefs on this year’s Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. For more information on the selection process and winner, click here.