The dynamic duos behind South America’s best restaurants

(Fine Dining Lovers) Behind every great chef, there’s a savvy business partner or indeed another great chef, and after South America cleared up at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, we wanted to learn more about the faces behind these establishments. Sometimes it’s life partners bound by love, but it can also be chalk-and-cheese business partners who complement each other like Champagne and oysters. We meet some of the continent’s dynamic duos who ranked in this year’s 50 Best.

Leonor Espinosa and Laura Hernández Espinosa, Leo, Bogotá

The world’s leading mother-and-daughter gastro team, this Colombian family is also the perfect professional pairing. Artist Leo leads the kitchen at the restaurant ranked 43 in the world, her aesthetic flair apparent in every dish, while her daughter sommelier Laura designs the innovative beverage programme. Using gastronomy as a tool for social and economic development at Leo, simultaneously with their Funleo foundation, Leonor was, in 2017, awarded the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize, She also founded the Zotea Culinary Centre in the Pacific Chocó region. After moving into purpose-built premises in 2021, Laura opened La Sala de Laura, the cocktail bar ranked 70 in the top 100 of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022. “We don’t really have a traditional mother-daughter relationship – and we have the marvellous fortune of shared passions,” says Laura.

Pía Salazar and Alejandro Chamorro, Nuema, Quito

He was a cook undertaking work experience, she was his boss: they fell in love, had three children and opened a restaurant. After several years working for the Ecuador outposts in Gastón Acurio’s empire, Pía Salazar and Alejandro Chamorro decided to spread their wings and apply their knowledge to their own project: Nuema opened in 2014. Over the past nine years, Nuema has moved premises three times, and the third’s the charm: in 2023 it became the first Ecuadorian restaurant to rank in the 50 Best, coming in at 79. In addition, Pía was voted World’s Best Pastry Chef, another first to boost the often-overlooked South American country’s gastronomy. “While we both cook, Pía manages operational and staffing matters while I take care of the creative part and public relations; when I dream too much, Pía brings me back down to earth,” says Alejandro.

For the rest of this, please visit Fine Dining Lovers, August 2023.

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