It was announced today, July 18, that Colombian chef Leonor Espinosa of the Restaurante Leo has won this year’s Basque Culinary World Prize. The prize is awarded by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government and is intended to celebrate, in its own words, Basque “values such as hard work and compromise, the capacity to excel, a vocation for transformation and the creation of equal opportunities for men and women.” In the words of the jury:

We believe that through awarding the prize to Leonor we recognize all those people ho are working hard today so that the city and rural communities can come together through gastronomy. Leonor’s work shows the possibilities that come when chefs acknowledge that biodiversity, ecology, culture, ad the traditions of local communities matter. Her work gives voice to the silence and anonymity of indigenous and Afroamerican cultures. We found this inspiring and powerful.

From the Basque Culinary World Prize website:

Leonor Espinosa is known for taking great pride in the cuisine of her country, as well as nurturing and promoting the value of its biodiversity. Through the Funleo foundation, Espinosa revives the ancestral knowledge and know-how of mainly indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples. 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 in ethnic locations. In addition to gathering support for opening a Comprehensive Gastronomy Centre in Chocó as an alternative framework to drug trafficking, she urges Colombia to raise awareness of its culinary richness, and wants its communities to take responsibility for transforming their biological, cultural and intangible heritage into tools for socio-economic development.

Zorionak Leonor!