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How These Four Female Chefs Are Revolutionizing the Gastro Scene

These women aren't just some the best cooks in the world, they're role models and inspire us with their innovative ideas.

January 22, 2023

Alain Ducasse, René Redzepi, Joel Robuchon – for a long time, the top echelons of gastronomy were dominated by men. Slowly but surely, the female world is catching up. More and more female chefs are asserting themselves at the very top. Or are on their way there. But most of them are not just striving for gastronomic excellence. Being among the best female chefs in the world is often not that important to them. They have their eyes set on changing the (gastronomic) world.

Leonor Espinosa, Leo

Leonor Espinosa © Agencia Creativa Vishop

Espinosa is proof of what happens when you combine the ingredients of Colombia with the techniques of haute cuisine in her restaurant Leo. She spent many years raising livestock and harvesting vegetables, which is still reflected in her cooking today. After a decade at an advertising agency, Espinosa began her career as a chef at 35. At Leo, she and her daughter serve sustainable and varied fare that draws on the treasures of the land. 90 percent of the ingredients come from regions that are difficult to access. They are rare and therefore rather unknown. In 2022, she was named the World's Best Female Chef.

Restaurante Leo
Cl. 65 Bis #4-23, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel.: +57 317 6616866

Debora Fadul, Diacá

Debora Fadul © World's 50 Best

Born and raised in Guatemala, it's important to Debora Fadul to express her connection to her own country in her cuisine as well. The name of her restaurant in Guatemala City translates as "from here," and the ingredients are accordingly endemic. They come from small producers throughout the country. Fadul describes her cuisine as "esoteric." She allows guests to experience unforgettable moments and is certain: the reason they love Diacá is because of the ingredients and dishes produced with love. Last year, it received the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award for its sustainable cuisine. In addition, it managed to make its debut on the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list.

Via 6, 3-56 Edificio OEG, nivel atelier, Cdad. de Guatemala, Guatemala
Tel.: +502 4007 8164

Salam Dakkak, Bait Maryam

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Bait Maryam, Dubai © World's 50 Best Restaurants

What began as a small collection of recipes is now one of the most popular restaurants in Dubai: Bait Maryam. Not only does it enjoy a recommendation in the Michelin Guide, its co-owner and chef Salam Dakkak was also recently named the Best Female Chef of 2023 in the Middle East and North Africa. Born in Palestine and raised in Jordan, she lived in Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and finally landed in Dubai, where she opened Bait Maryam in 2017. Translated, "Bait" means "home." And Maryam is her mother's name. Indeed, her restaurant makes you feel like you're at home with mom. The cuisine is Levantine, the recipes are handed down through generations.

Bait Maryam
Cluster D - Jumeirah Lake Towers - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Tel.: +971 800 627926

Wawira Njiru, Food For Education

Wawira Njiru © World's 50 Best Restaurants

She's not a top chef. And certainly not one of the best cooks in the world. Wawira Njiru makes that clear time and again. But she is still an icon. While studying in Australia, the Kenya native decided to cook for a few friends. Her goal: to raise a little money for the poorest of the school children back home. The project initially took in little more than $1,000. But 10 years later, their social enterprise Food For Education already employed 200 people. They serve 40,000 children in 41 schools in Nariobi, Mombasa and Kiambu. The United Nations named her Person of the Year in 2021. And last year, she was awarded the Icon Award from World's 50 Best.

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