What’s the concept? Local celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa’s flagship restaurant showcases little-known Colombian ingredients such as corozo fruit (a tangy red berry), arrechón (an aphrodisiac drink) and bijao (a banana-like plant), while championing local communities and gastronomic traditions. Since opening Leo she has had a great influence on Colombian cuisine and in 2017 Espinosa won the title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef.
A few words on the chef: An economist and artist by training, Leo’s love of anthropology, contemporary art and culture is evident in both her cooking and the restaurant itself: a bright, cosy room adorned with bold paintings. Espinosa also runs nearby Misia, a more casual venture inspired by popular Colombian cuisine.
What’s the deal with those chunky ants? The chef crushes the shells of ants from the Santander region to make a crunchy, nutty coating. Then the ants’ bottoms (like tiny snail shells) are placed as garnish on the side of the dish.
How the menus work: Leo’s current menu, called Ciclo-Bioma, focuses on Colombian ecosystems, exploring the ways new species can be used in the kitchen. The origin of each ingredient is represented on a map of Colombia that shows how far the chef has travelled to source the unique products used at Leo. Those not wanting to sample the extensive wine menu can go for the non-alcoholic drinks pairing, which includes refreshing options like corozo berry juice or a corn drink.
Go inside Leo in the video: