Award-Winning Peruvian Chef Pía León Continues To Show The World Why She Is Proud Of Peru.
Peruvian chef Pía León was selected as The World’s Best Female Chef of 2021 by the organization The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, an acclaimed UK media company with a panel of more than 1,000 experts in the food and culinary industry including chefs, restaurateurs, and gourmands. “The World’s 50 Best” for short, are known for awarding a series of special prizes to select individuals and restaurants in the industry.
Pia León has worked in the kitchens of the Ritz hotel in New York and Astrid y Gastón in Lima, Peru. It was a watershed moment for her when León learned that a local chef was establishing a promising new restaurant in Lima. The local chef was Virgilio Martnez, a colleague of León back at Astrid y Gastón as executive chef. That restaurant turned out to be the now Michelin Star winning Central Restaurante.
In 2009 she landed a job at Central to work the cold station. Within five years, she had progressed from being the kitchen’s lone female cook to its head chef, and Virgilio Martnez’s right-hand man, or in this case, right-hand woman. In 2014, Central restaurant was named the best restaurant in Latin America according to The World’s 50 Best, in which it retained the title for the following two years.
By 2018, Virgilio Martnez and Pía León opened their own unique restaurant also in Lima, named Kjolle. Recently after sampling her dishes made with regional ingredients, Pía León was selected by The World’s 50 Best franchise for The World’s Best Female Chef of 2021. The 34-year-old Peruvian cook is the first Peruvian to achieve this title.
“I am happy, after so much work, it is the perfect moment, the ideal platform to show that, although it can be difficult at times if you have the will and know what you want, things happen in their own time and at the right time,” said León. She continued speaking about the necessity of the accolade itself. “Hopefully there will come a time when it’s no longer needed, and there are those who will ask why there isn’t a prize for men,” she continues. “But let’s be honest, there are more male chefs – that’s the truth. If we look at it in a positive way, it also generates motivation for women and it encourages them, makes them dare to try.”
Pía León’s success is due to her ingenuity and usage of ingredients from all around Peru such as loche (a sort of pumpkin) and cocona, a tropical shrub cultivated in Purús Province in eastern Peru. On Tuesday, October 5th, León will officially receive the honor at the ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 in Antwerp, Flanders.