Leonor Espinosa

Cartago - Valle del Cauca

Leonor Espinosa 2023 11 06 17 43 34

Talented chef whose passion blossomed after studying something entirely different. Now the owner and head chef of the restaurants "Leo" and "La Sala de Laura," managed by her daughter, a sommelier; Leonor is also a culinary activist and socially engaged through her foundation FUNLEO. In 2022, the chef was named the Best Chef in the world by The World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

Leonor Espinosa was born in 1963 in Cartago, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Her passion for cooking emerged after studying Fine Arts at the School of Fine Arts in Cartagena de Indias and Economics at the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar.

In 2005, she opened her restaurant, "Leo," in Bogotá, which became famous worldwide for the chef's ability to blend the diverse cultural influences of Colombia. Her country, nestled between the Atlantic and the Pacific, offers a wealth of inspirations that can be found in her dishes, ranging from Amazonian, Andean, and Caribbean traditions to those from the Pacific, Arab, African, Spanish, and indigenous cultures. Her dedication to culinary research and social commitment found a new expression in 2008 when she founded the Leo Espinosa Foundation FUNLEO, led by her daughter Laura, a development expert. The chef then launched "La Sala de Laura," located upstairs from her celebrated restaurant, also skillfully managed by her daughter, who is a talented sommelier.

The mother and daughter's commitment focuses on actors belonging to small minorities that have long been marginalized in silence. Invisible African and indigenous communities, plagued by social violence issues and deprived of their fundamental resources. These communities comprise 150,000 people from 81 ethnic groups who speak 64 different languages, representing an invaluable anthropological and cultural heritage.

Leonor has received international recognition for her work: she won the Basque Culinary World Prize in 2017, and in 2022, she was named the Best Chef in the world by The World's 50 Best Restaurants list. She is also the author of two important cookbooks, "Leo el Sabor" and "Lo que cuenta el caldero."


Cover Photo: @JuanPabloGutierrez


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