Paula Andrea

I’m from Bogota, and at 16, I started cooking with my mom. She took baking courses, and I fell in love with the kitchen. So, I decided to pursue a career in culinary arts. One mistake many students make is thinking that graduating from culinary school automatically makes you a chef or lets you skip many positions. But I’ve met many people who never attended culinary school and are now running kitchens. That’s because you need experience beyond studying and need to go through many different outcomes to become a true leader. And when a problem arises, you need to know precisely how to solve it.

During school, I started working part-time in Colombian BBQs. Then, I interned in a hotel kitchen, where I experienced the intensity of the work and the industry’s reality. Now, I can’t look back. The demanding hours have taught me many things beyond work life. I learned the basics of cooking good food for ourselves and our loved ones, which should be a must in a world of fast food. But the most rewarding part of the industry is how one meal can make people feel.

I almost gave up once when I had the opportunity to open a pizzeria from scratch, creating everything – the dough, the sauces, the sourcing – but suddenly, the owners got into a fight, and I found myself out of it. I felt so low because, as a cook, your food sometimes becomes an extension of yourself, and it can become personal. But the industry showed me its infinite diversity, and working in a place where fire was the main element and traditional food was the core made me find enough reasons to continue in the industry!

Today, I’m working in a place where food, drinks, and Tejo, a Colombian cultural recreational game, come together. I want to keep learning and giving my 100% to this industry, but as I grow, I hope the respect and remuneration in this industry do.