Leonor Espinosa: the Colombian chef with a taste for change

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Ants may sound unappetising, but in Colombia they are part of a rich culinary tradition, one being championed by Leonor Espinosa, recently crowned as Latin America’s best chef

The woman who is garnering a reputation as the best chef in Latin America says she doesn’t consider herself a cook at all. “I’m an artist,” says Leonor Espinosa. “Food is first and foremost about art for me. It’s also about memory, history and what’s ahead. It’s the story of our heritage, and it’s also the blueprint for our future.”

Espinosa is championing the food of her homeland, Colombia: a nation, she says, that has kept its culinary wealth buried in its larder for far too long. “There’s almost an embarrassment in my country about our food,” she says. “But that’s so wrong. We have immense riches to share. We’re about 20 years behind Mexico in terms of the international impact of our cuisine, but we have so much to offer.” Even more importantly, she believes, food has much to give the country as it climbs its way out of an era dominated by civil war and drugs violence. Not only can its cuisine put Colombia on the map for something positive, but food production can provide its people with alternative livelihoods to cocaine production.

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