Making a name for herself and women in this cooking boom throughout the world

Chef Leonor Espinosa is an inspiration on so many levels. Artist, business woman, proud Colombian and brilliant chef in her elegantly cozy restaurant in Bogota, Leo. She is the current holder of Latin America’s Best Female chef title, Leo is rated #18 of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and it was just named to the World’s 100 Best Restaurants at #99. With her daughter Laura Hernandez Espinosa as sommelier, the two are taking Colombian cuisine to a new and exciting level.

Aspire Lifestyles: What do you want the world to know about the cuisine of your country and the cuisine of your restaurant?

Chef Espinosa: I want the world to know that Colombia is a country with a great culinary heritage and with a biodiversity of promising biological species from different biomes and Colombian ecosystems that can be used in gastronomy.

Aspire Lifestyles: What progress have you seen in the span of your career so far, what would you like to see happen and how are you becoming part of that evolution?

Chef Espinosa: If we talk about the last 10 years, Colombia has grown, people have begun to value the culinary wealth that we have always had a little more and certainly the cooks have been an important part in this recognition. However, this is only the beginning, I want Colombia to have the place it deserves because it is a country that has a lot to show the world. In terms of what I want, my commitment has been to be responsible with the productive chain and culinary traditions, to make them visible.

Aspire Lifestyles: Your achievement of 2017 Best Female Chef is wonderful. How do you plan to use that designation to help and encourage other chefs?

Chef Espinosa: Already the fact of recognizing the work of a cook is motivating and encouraging. I would tell them that they must work with faith and dedication, because we definitely notice that women can be participants in this cooking boom throughout the world.

Aspire Lifestyles: What is the most important value you teach to your kitchen team?

Chef Espinosa: There are so many that I am almost everyone’s mother; I seek to teach them all those values ​​that are related to ethics and the morals of the trade, including honesty and respect.

Aspire Lifestyles: When friends come to the city, where do you take them, both for dinner and to have a privileged view of Bogotá?

Chef Espinosa: I take them to the market squares, to some traditional kitchen places and to the restaurants of my fellow friends.

Aspire Lifestyles: What has been your most memorable food destination (city / country)? Why?

Chef Espinosa: Asia is memorable to me, the traditional cuisines in India and Japan. Indian cuisine is an explosion of flavors and aromas, colorful and imposing. It definitely seduces me. On the other side we have the subtlety and delicacy of the Japanese, we can see it in its cuts. Almost opposite, while one is delicate, the other is undoubtedly stronger.

Aspire Lifestyles: You have the possibility to take 5 chefs to dinner at any restaurant in the world. What chefs would you take with you and where? Why these chefs and why that restaurant?

Chef Espinosa: I would travel with those chefs with whom I share the same culinary philosophy, that is, conceive cooking more as an art than as a business and always with social responsibility.

Aspire Lifestyles: How has it changed in your life to belong to the list of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America?

Chef Espinosa: Undoubtedly the list makes us visible, categorizing the chef and puts us in a privileged place.