Leo (Bogotá, Colombia)

Leonor studied Fine Art at the Fine Arts School in Cartagena de Indias and Economics at the Technological University of Bolivar. In 2008, her vocation for research into gastronomy led her to give concrete expression to her social forays by setting up the Leo Espinosa Foundation, FUNLEO, run by her daughter, Laura Hernández-Espinosa, who is a specialist in Interdisciplinary Development Studies and a sommelier at the Argentine Sommeliers’ School.

She currently runs the cooking at her restaurants: LEO and MISIA. At LEO, she bases the cuisine she offers on the periodic study of promising biological species from different Colombian biomes and ecosystems in order to use them in cooking and modern fusion dishes. On the other hand, at MISIA, she promotes the flavours of Colombian Caribbean cuisine, and she remains faithful to culinary traditions, paying tribute to the food of her childhood and to what is on offer in the piqueteaderos (rustic canteen-type restaurants), public squares and refreshment stalls in her country.

For six years the LEO restaurant has appeared in the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, which also awarded her the prize of Best female Chef in Latin America in 2017. Another of the major awards that she received in the same year was the Basque Culinary World Prize 2017, an award set up by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government to recognise the work carried out by chefs from all over the world who have a professional career in cooking and show that gastronomy is a driving force for change.

In 2018 it entered the list of the 100 Best in the World published by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It was also included in the annual list of The World’s 100 Greatest Places 2018 by Time Magazine, and closed the year in tenth place in the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, which confirmed it as the best restaurant in Colombia.

Leo is currently 49th in the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019.

Her publications include, ‘Leo el sabor’, a book in which she tells stories about age-old cooking fires and reflects a modern perspective through her experiences in seven ethnic communities. She also writes in the Colombian newspaper, El Espectador, about what is happening in Colombian cooking through stories and articles which have been collected in her book: ‘Lo que cuenta el caldero’. Her latest book is, ‘Leonor Espinosa, un homenaje ilustrado’.