Leonor Espinosa, Best Female Chef in the World: Is Cooking Different According to Gender?

The Colombian Chef, Owner of the LEO Restaurant, was Highlighted as the Best Female Chef in the World in 2022. Here are the Details of the Recognition of Leonor Espinosa..

Leonor Espinosa, Colombian chef

Photo: Wikimedia – Camila Garavito Donated

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: Leonor Espinosa, mejor Chef Mujer del mundo: ¿Se cocina distinto según el género?

Colombia has a rich gastronomic tradition, but now it also has the best Female Chef in the World. The truth is that Leonor Espinosa, owner of the LEO restaurant in Bogotá, was recently named the Best Female Chef in the World in 2022, according to the prestigious list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

It should be noted that the "50 Best" have 1080 voters, who are men and women in equal proportion, from 26 regions of the planet. In turn, within these 1080 people there are 34% chefs and restaurateurs, 33% gastronomic writers and 33% gourmet travelers.

Every year this group changes, since the idea is that, competition after competition, new voters with different tastes emerge. All jurors are anonymous and must write in a form what has been the best gastronomic experience of the last year and a half. Now, this has a "secret".

Only a maximum of 6 establishments in from their region can be voted by the judges. The remaining 4, which complement the top 10, must be from other parts of the world. This gives enormous prestige to the award, since it is a specialized list, which seeks to find out what the best gastronomic experience is for the majority of diners.

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The success of LEO and the dilemma about single or divided lists

In this sense, Leonor Espinosa managed to captivate the majority with her work done at LEO. In case you didn't know, since 2014, the Bogota located restaurant has appeared on the list of the best restaurants in Latin America, according to the list of S. Pellegrino Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants. It was even the first restaurant in Colombia to belong to The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

LEO, created in 2005, seeks to offer typical dishes from the Colombian region, with a mix of flavors that can attract both locals and tourists. For this reason, different gastronomic experiences are usually offered, with delicious ingredients typical of local cultures.

It should be noted that, in recent years, Latin America had a great representation in this event. Precisely Espinosa, who had already been named Best Chef in Latin America in 2017, succeeded the Peruvian Pía León in 2021 and the Mexican Daniela Soto Innes in 2019, since in 2020 there was no award, due to the pandemic.

This shows that Colombia is having enormous prestige in world gastronomy, but it is also a situation that leads to reflection. Although you might believe that this award includes both men and women, the reality is that it does not: both shortlists are given separately and there are always two different winners.

For example, in 2021 it was the chef Dabiz Muñoz, in charge of the DiverXo restaurant in Madrid, who won the award. Although it is true that both seem to have the same importance, the fact that both shortlists are divided is questionable, since there does not seem to be a logical explanation behind this decision.

A clear analogy can occur with the sports world. Soccer is divided into male and female as it is understood that, for biological reasons, men and women do not have the same physical strength. To avoid injuries and to make the "battle" fairer, the competitions are divided. However, none of this applies to the kitchen, at least in this version of the awards.

There are others that do not make a gender distinction. For example, in the 2020 Caribbean Region La Barra awards, it happened that in the “Best Chef” category there was no woman nominated. There was only one in the "Revelation Chef" category and it was Camila Linero. For this reason, there is also a position that indicates that, in order to give greater importance to women, the correct thing to do is to separate the shortlists.

This explanation is based on the fact that, historically, the profession of chef and gastronomic entrepreneur was more associated with men than with women. Although it is not an abysmal difference, the former have transcended the media more than the latter. However, this also happens in reverse in another branch: pastry, where women predominate.

Therefore, prizes should ideally not be gender-differentiated. Women are able to compete on equal terms with other men, since what is measured is who offers an exclusive experience in the gastronomic field. However, it is also true that, if the majority of restaurants are led by male chefs, perhaps the female representation is less in these awards.

And you, what do you think about this topic?

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