Each year in mid to late April, S. Pellegrino announces the World's 50 Best Restaurants, at least in their not so humble opinion. Several years ago they began announcing in advance of the restaurant awards they announced a brand new award: The Veuve Clicquot Best Female Chef, celebrating “the work of an exceptional female chef whose cooking excites the toughest of critics” — which was given to French chef Anne-Sophie Pic. In 2012 they gave the nod to Spanish chef Elena Arzak, and last year was Italian chef Nadia Santini.
While we have complex feelings about the need for Best Female Chef versus just Best Chef, we certainly can't argue with Pic, Arzak and Santini being worthy of praise, or with this year's choice which was announced today, once again in advance of the main awards which take place on April 28th. The 2014 Best Female Chef award goes to Helena Rizzo, chef/owner of Mani in São Paulo, Brazil, where she marries traditional Brazilian ingredients and culinary philosophies with modern technique and a dash of international influence, from Spain and Italy in particular. Rizzo opened Mani with her husband, Daniel Redondo, in 2006 after they met each other while working at El Celler de Can Roca in Spain — the resto currently in the #1 spot on the 2013 list; Mani is #46. In 2013, Rizzo was honored as The Best Female Chef in Latin America
In a statement Rizzo said "This award is a recognition of my work and of the work of our entire team. I am not and have never intended to be 'the best female chef in the world', especially because this is a difficult judgment to make. Each one of us can be the best in a particular situation, at a given time for a certain person. Of course, I'm very happy and honoured to receive this award and I'm grateful for it! At Maní, we try to do our best every day, sometimes we get it wrong but sometimes we get it right... I hope that this award makes the gastronomic world open its eyes to the work of female cooks and to the wonderful kitchens we have in Brazil."