I am from Cali, Colombia. I started in the kitchen at 15. My mom is a professional cook; she used to work for a catering company that handled huge events. My starting point was that same company, but I began as a steward. It’s not an easy task, and certainly not as glamorous as they depict it on TV. Since we didn’t have a stable location like a restaurant, there were no dishwashing machines. In fact, you were the machine. During events, we served all kinds of small plates, forks, and knives. It was wild to see almost 1,500 dishes coming into the kitchen almost at the same time.

I spent a couple of years with that company, helping with preparation and eventually moving into serving. Then, I decided to move to the capital, Bogota. After working so hard in that catering company, all the other jobs that came my way seemed easy. I worked more in the front of the house, but somehow, with time, I started missing my time in the kitchen. Even though it’s a tough job, crafting or creating something that someone will enjoy fills your soul in a way I can’t explain.

Working so close to fire and heat has been an experience. Initially, it was hard, but you get used to it and become one with the element. From here, you witness servers who can’t even stand the heat, but I kind of enjoy it now, especially knowing that this natural element adds such great flavor to the food. Cooking with wood fire has been a part of us for generations, and it has made my cooking journey more meaningful.