Argentina is known for its meat-centric cuisine, but Chef Narda Lepes is gaining worldwide acclaim for her veggie-first fare, and now she’s been named Latin America’s Best Female Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Lepes opened Narda Comedor in Buenos Aires in 2017 with the intention of introducing healthy and nutritious meals to the red meat-loving citizens of her homeland. Some of her signature dishes feature protein as the supporting ingredient to vegetables, like the onion with 72-hour reduced beef broth, chicory with herb cream and egg, and cabbage with cauliflower purée and morcilla (blood sausage).
“In a year where everything is so intense and so strange, and requires so much from each of us and strains us emotionally, I take this recognition as a boost for my career,” Lepes told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Lepes trained as a chef in Paris before returning to Argentina where she was a judge on MasterChef Argentina and worked as a producer of cooking shows. She’s written three books, most recently Ñam Ñam, a healthy eating guide book for children and she has an app ‘Comé+Plantas‘ (“Eat + Plants”) that provides information on how to eat healthy.
“I like having the opportunity to say this in a more amplified way: we have to pay attention to what we eat and rethink how we produce it,” Lepes told AFP.
Argentina’s meat consumption in 2012 was about 129 pounds per person, according to the New York Times, so her cuisine isn’t just flavorful it’s a mission that’s clearly made an impact. The best chef honor also recognized her efforts to ensure her meat and vegetable providers have sustainable and healthy practices in place. In an effort to be more inclusive, Narda Comedor hires and trains women over 60 years old to work front of house for lunch service.
Lepes will be honoured at the virtual countdown of the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 on Dec. 3.
“It is an honour to be named Latin America’s Best Female Chef, especially in such difficult times for the industry,” Lepes told Fine Dining Lovers. “Now, more than ever, we need to learn from each other. I am proud of the human connections that we have fostered through our work at Narda Comedor and hope to continue inspiring the conversation around food.”