Cecilia Manuela Sanchez

I am from Tumaco, Nariño, on the Pacific Coast of Colombia. Since the age of 14, I have worked in front of a wood-burning stove. My grandmother was a cook, and her work was unique as she focused on catering to the local farmers. This kept us constantly on the move as we set up kitchens and wood-burning stoves in front of the crops and often in the middle of the jungle!

Many times, we used what they produced, such as yuca, corn, etc., and prepared chicken or pork Sancocho stews using the animals raised in the area. As time passed, my town became a place of conflict, war, and violence in the country, and we had no choice but to be displaced from our homes with no other option to go to the capital in search for help and opportunities.

Upon arriving in Bogotá, I was fortunate to land my first job in a restaurant as a waitress. Despite being displaced, finding the kitchen and that connection with the restaurant made it easier for me to adapt to the big city, as I didn’t feel completely disconnected from what I used to do back home.

Gradually, I transitioned into different kitchens, working in various seafood places, until I found @testigobgta where I felt like I was back in my hometown, cooking with my grandmother over a wood fire and preparing a large pot of Sancocho!