Rizzo, co-owner of Mani Restaurant in São Paulo, will be honoured at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, in London on the 28th April.
Rizzo moved to São Paulo aged 18 to pursue a career as a model, but developed a love for cooking after working part time in kitchens in the city.
After working with influential Brazilian chefs including Emmanuel Bassoleil, Luciano Boseggia and Neka Barreto, Rizzo spent two years as head chef at São Paulo’s Na Mata Café.
She them embarked on a culinary adventure to hone her skills, with stints in Italy and Spain including time at Girona’s El Celler de Can Roca, which topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list last year.
Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, said: “Helena has talent, sensibility and passion. She is authentic and faithful to her roots.”
Rizzo opened Maní with her husband, Spanish chef Daniel Redondo, in the São Paulo suburb of Jardim Paulistano in 2006.
The restaurant, which marries traditional Brazilian culinary practices and ingredients with modern technique and Spanish influence, has won praise from international critics and chefs and placed 46 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013.
Rizzo’s signature dish at the restaurant is an interpretation of Brazilian Maniocas, baked and served with tucupi froth, coconut milk and white truffle oil.
Commenting on her win, 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’, 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."
The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award celebrates the work of an exceptional female chef whose cooking excites the toughest of critics.
The award is inspired by the life and achievements of Madame Clicquot who set the standard for women in business nearly 200 years ago.
William Drew, group editor, said: “We are very proud to present this award, in conjunction with Veuve Clicquot, to Helena. In what remains a very male world, we feel that celebrating the success of brilliant female chefs is vitally important.
“If Helena’s achievements, in turn, inspire future generations of women to enter the profession, that can only be a positive outcome.”
The results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 will be announced at London’s Guildhall on 28 April and on Twitter – @theworlds50best