How do you become the best cook in the world?

At the time of writing these lines, Leonor Espinosa and her daughter, Laura Hernández, are in London receiving the award as the Best Chef in the World at the annual ceremony of the prestigious list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (The Best 50 Restaurants of the Mundo), which highlights the best restaurants and those, like Leo, who have contributed positively to the development of cuisine in the world. The restaurant Leo It was also ranked 48th among the best restaurants, being, for the second year in a row, the only Colombian restaurant to appear on that list.

But to be on the list and be highlighted as the best in the world, cooking delicious food is not enough. For more than a quarter of a century, haute cuisine has been radically transformed and no longer aims exclusively, as before, at exoticism, luxury and pageantry. For a generation, global social, political, economic and cultural concerns have been increasingly taken into account when judging the most sophisticated, avant-garde and, therefore, relevant kitchens, to the point where today the key word in haute cuisine is sustainability.

Haute cuisine is a style characterized by high refinement and complexity in its preparations, by the use of high-quality ingredients and by the professionalism of the cooks and the room service. From the end of the 18th century its rudiments were laid, but the sophistication criteria have been changing over time. This is how, at the beginning of the 19th century, dishes whose ingredients were expensive and difficult to obtain were privileged, while, later, in the interwar period of the 20th century, minimalism was encouraged in terms of ingredients and preparation in the kitchen. nouvelle cuisine. At the end of the last century, there was an explosion of new cooking techniques resulting from the research of Harold McGee and other scientists who approached cooking from the exact sciences such as chemistry and physics.

The transition to the third millennium meant a global concern regarding environmental care, with special emphasis on seeking sustainability, thinking not only in the short term but also in the long term. Leonor Espinosa and other avant-garde chefs have taken this banner for years, using more and more local products, the use of which generates a lower carbon footprint due to the geographical proximity between producer and consumer, as well as stimulating fair trade by eliminating a good part of the chain. intermediation; emphasizing the proper and total use of the ingredient, seeking to limit waste to a minimum; in environmentally sustainable processes in terms of waste management; dignifying the producers and the bearers of tradition, recognizing their knowledge in the investigative and creative process of building menus and dishes, etc.

Visit Leo and its two spaces, Laura’s room (specializing in beverages based on fermented and distilled ingredients from local cultures) and Leo’s room (whose proposal revolves around products, techniques and recipes that represent diversity Colombian environmental and cultural), also implies taking a tour of the geographies and countless regional historical stories, largely unknown to the vast majority, since another function of haute cuisine today is the redefinition of historical processes and local memory thus contributing to make visible and teach, through the preparations and their stories, the unknown and wonderful history of Colombia.

This is how Leonor Espinosa, her daughter Laura and the entire team of Leo They have been committed for decades to local development, food sovereignty and the rescue of culinary values ​​and traditions that were invisible or forgotten and today, that titanic effort is rewarded by international recognition that not only puts the magnifying glass on Leonor, but in Colombia through its cuisine. Congratulations Leo!