SHARE
COPY LINK

CHEF

Cooking with a conscience: Colombian chef wins top culinary prize

Leonor Espinosa, a Colombian chef known for sourcing local ingredients and giving back to the communities that supply them, won the Basque Culinary World Prize Monday, a €100,000 prize for chefs who make a difference.

Cooking with a conscience: Colombian chef wins top culinary prize
Espinosa is known for her highly artistic take on culinary traditions from across Colombia. Photo: AFP

Espinosa, the head chef at LEO in Bogota and founder of the Funleo foundation, received the award in Mexico City from a star-studded jury presided by Spanish chef Joan Roca, whose restaurant El Celler de Can Roca has twice been named the best in the world.

The jury called Espinosa “one of Colombia's most celebrated chefs and a key figure in its gastronomic renaissance.”   

“Espinosa has revived 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,” it said in announcing the award.

“She's a person with tenacity, perseverance, and commitment to preserving her country's diversity,” Roca said at the award ceremony.    

The prize was launched last year by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque government in northern Spain.    

The Basque Culinary Center is a gastronomic university born off the back of a revolution in Spanish cuisine epitomized by the Basque country's plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants and by Ferran Adria, the father of molecular gastronomy.

The first winner was Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe, for her work to make the world a better place through chocolate: namely, by improving conditions for farmers of cacao, one of her signature ingredients.   

READ ALSO: Chocolate activist wins first 'Nobel Prize for chefs'

Espinosa is known for her highly artistic take on culinary traditions from across Colombia, from the “conchadores” who gather shellfish on the Pacific coast to the recipes inherited from African slaves on the Caribbean coast to the flavors of the Andes highlands.

The prize money — about $114,000 — is to devote to a project or institution of her choice.

“The award shines a light on those communities that for years have struggled to be recognized for their ancestral value and contribution to national cultural identity,” said Espinosa, 54.   

On Tuesday, star chefs Roca, Michel Bras of France, Gaston Acurio of Peru and others will lead a symposium on biodiversity and gastronomy amid the floating gardens of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mexico City.

READ MORE: Scientists and top chefs team up to explore science of taste

 

 

RECIPE

Recipe: How to make Spain’s classic croquetas de jamón

January 16th is officially Internationally Croquette Day.

Recipe: How to make Spain's classic croquetas de jamón
Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

The golden crunchy snack has its very own international day of celebration so make sure to devour at least one plate of the Spanish speciality this week. 

You can find meaty versions, fishy versions and even vegetarian croquetas but by far the most popular filling is the traditional jamón iberico. 

So for those of you who don't feel like leaving the house in search of these tasty morsels, here's how to make them at home. 

Peruse any Spanish menu and you are likely to find the classic croquetas de jamón – the golden crunchy outside containing a deliciously creamy filling. 

Luis Valerio from spanishcuisine.com lets us in to the secret of how to make a perfect croquette. 

Ingredients

– Half an onion

– Two eggs (hard boiled)

– Four tbsp olive oil

– Three oz of serrano ham (pieces)

– ¼ tsp salt

– ¼ cup olive oil

– Three oz of flour (all-purpose)

– ½ litre of milk

– One tsp of salt

– Two eggs (medium)

– Breadcrumbs (dried)

– One cup of vegetable oil 


Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Recipe 

Hard boil eggs to your liking and then peel and chop.

Peel and chop finely half an onion.

Chop finely the Serrano ham pieces or slices.

Heat four tablespoons of olive oil in a pot. When warm add chopped onion, Serrano ham, hard-boiled eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook over low heat for 10 – 12 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot with the onion.

Once warm add the all-purpose flour and cook over low heat for three to five minutes whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until the mixture is smooth and turns a light, golden colour.

Slowly (1/4 a cup for each time) add the room temperature milk to the pot with the mixture and cook over medium heat whisking constantly. Season with one teaspoon of salt.

Bring it to a boil and cook over medium heat for four to five minutes stirring continuously (taste and add more salt if needed). If the béchamel sauce is gritty, use the blender to make it smooth.


Photo: Tim Lucas/Flickr 

Set the béchamel aside and let it cool for around three hours or until firm.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and put breadcrumbs on a plate.

Shape a tablespoonsful of mixture and roll in breadcrumbs.

Dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs again.

Heat one cup of vegetable oil in a skillet. When hot add croquettes in batches and fry until golden (one to two minutes each side).

Transfer croquettes to a plate.

Serve warm and enjoy your Spanish ham croquettes recipe!

(Note: You don't have to eat your croquettes all at once – although it is tempting! You can freeze them before frying). 

SHOW COMMENTS