Wikimedia Commons / Oniricalhe / CC BY-SA 4.0

Chef Leonor Espinosa Wins Basque Culinary World Prize

The Basque Culinary Center announced the win on July 17 in Mexico City

Wikimedia Commons / Oniricalhe / CC BY-SA 4.0

“The country is beginning to understand the importance of placing faith in gastronomy,” Espinosa said.

The Basque Culinary World Prize is a competition among chefs making change beyond the kitchen. This year, Leonor Espinosa took home the title, winning $111,000 USD to continue her work to show just how much gastronomy can make a difference.

Espinosa hails from Colombia, a country not typically mentioned in the same breath as top gastronomic destinations like Italy, Spain, or Japan. However, as a prominent chef and owner of Leo Cocina y Cava and founder of the Fundación Leo Espinosa (FUNLEO), Espinosa has been recognized for her passion in promoting the country’s biodiversity, traditions, and native cuisine.

“She supports rural development based on food sovereignty, and promotes routes to market for small producers as well as spaces for education, nutrition, enterprise and tourism,” the Basque Culinary World Prize explains in the profile of Espinosa on its website.

“She helped build support for the establishment of a Comprehensive Gastronomy Centre in Golfo de Tribugá as an alternative framework to drug trafficking, and has campaigned to raise awareness of Colombia’s culinary richness.”

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Espinosa was chosen from 10 among finalists by a panel of judges including José Andrés, Daniel Patterson, and Roy Choi.